DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Aegean Airlines (A3) made its maiden flight from Athens (ATH) to Heraklion (HER) and Thessaloniki (SKG) in 1999.
The airline can actually trace its history back to 1987. After the deregulation of the Greek aviation industry, Antonios and Nicolaos Simidglades formed Aegean Aviation, a small private air-taxi operator. Aegean would subsequently become the first airline to be issued an Independent Air Carrier Licence by the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority in 1992.
Aegean Airlines is Born
The carrier was then purchased by the Vassailakis Group in 1994 and was rebranded as Aegean Airlines in May, with the vision of creating ‘a high-quality carrier in Greece to rival Olympic.’
Scheduled domestic flights were launched using two brand new 100-seat Avro RJ100s. Six of the type would be operated, before the final example was retired on May 2, 2011.
In December 1999, A3 purchased its rival Air Greece (JG) and the combined carriers became the second largest in Greece overnight. The purchase also gave the airline its first international routes to Cologne (CGN), Düsseldorf (DUS), and Stuttgart (STR) from SKG and HER.
A further merger was completed in March 2001 with Cronus Airlines (X5) following a ‘period of dynamic development of both companies in parallel courses.’
Aegean had previously operated a varied fleet of ATR-72s, RJ100s, Fokker 100s, and Boeing 737-300/400s, some of which had been added following the two mergers. In 2005 the decision was made to replace these with a single fleet type.
A battle ensued between Airbus and Boeing and following a ‘lengthy and detailed’ evaluation it was the European manufacturer who won the fight. Eight A320s and options for a further twelve were ordered in December 2005
The first (SX-DVG) arrived on February 22, 2007, and by June that…