Today many more sailings have appeared in the ANES online booking system for the Sebeco. They take things all the way to late October!The online timetable doesn’t show these yet.
There are several additional sailings from Rhodes to Symi at 19:30 on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday, and from Symi to Rhodes at 08:00 on Sunday and Monday and Wednesday, and those Saturday and Sunday sailings, will be very encouraging for Scandanavian tourists, most of whose flights to Rhodes are on those days. The 10:00 and 13:00 sailings from Rhodes and the 11:45 and 17:45 from Symi continue from the current May timetable Combined timetable for May Combined timetable for June to September
Interestingly,there was an application to the Coastal Shipping Council last week for permission to run a ship Sebeco II between Piraeus and Aegina starting 15 June. It did not receive full approval. Due to the cloud of secrecy around ANES, it isn’t clear at all if this was meant to be a second ship of the same design.
In other news from Symi, the tourist road train is now running – with just one carriage at the moment. The Loukas- Irini -Michaelis – Constantinos taxiboat fleet has started service, though of the beaches they go to, only Ag Nikolaos has facilities open yet, though I’m informed Nanou should open today or tomorrow.
No sooner do I say what the bus is doing, than Lakis reinstates the 22:00 timing from Yialos/22:30 from Pedi for the season, effective today. There will be even later departures as the island gets busier.
We may see taxi-boats in service tomorrow – the Loukas – Irini etc group of boats have now chalked up their departure times for early season, and at least St Nicholas beach is ready to receive visitors.
Petalo beach, which doesn’t need boat service, now has its giant sunshade up, and seating is being set out.
Well, here I am happily on Symi once again. What’s going on here?
On the transport front, despite what their website says, Blue Star Ferries are still using Blue Star Patmos on their Wednesday and Friday calls at Symi. For the past week, SeaDreams have been using King Saron on their day excursions from Rhodes instead of the advertised Symi II. Yesterday the tiny Zeus D appeared on a day excursion trip from Rhodes for the first time this year.
Transport on and around the island itself is still in very early season mode. No taxi boats (waterbuses) are operating yet, though half the boats are now back in the water and moored in Yialos alongside the freshly repainted ticket counters. The Poseidon has been out and about on her “round the island” trips several times a week. The Symi Bus is running to early season timetable – no 15:00 from Yialos or 15:30 from Pedi yet, and the last bus is still 21:00 from Yialos/ 21:30 from Pedi. The Panormitis bus is running as usual.
Tourist infrastructure in Chorio and Yialos is nearly up to summer levels – most tavernas and cafes are now open (and of course some are open all year round anyway). Beaches are still being worked on after the extremely wet winter and only Nos and the Katsaras section of Pedi are serviced yet.
ANES are still drip-feeding their timetables. It isn’t clear whether they don’t know what they want to do, or whether they are having trouble getting the authorities to approve it. Certainly the latest timetable is of little help to tourists wanting to stay on Symi, or Symi residents wanting a shopping/medical/business day in Rhodes.
May looks like being a good month for ferries. Hot on the heels of the 4th weekly Blue Star announcement for the month of May comes the first few days of ANES Ferries “Sebeco” for the season. There had been doubt about whether Sebeco would operate Rhodes-Symi this summer, but here she is, with times released up to 8th May.
Now, ANES, tell us what you’re doing for the rest of May and indeed the rest of summer, as soon as you can. Because Symi is an island that really requires advance booking by tourists, they want to know when they can get there, especially since last year (and this year judging by the times released so far) Sebeco had/will have the much requested morning sailings from Symi and afternoon sailings from Rhodes on most days – and a mooring point in Symi right by the bus station.
Blue Star have announced an additional service during May, providing a Symi-Rhodes 07:40 morning and Rhodes-Symi afternoon 17:00 sailing on Sundays during May. These are extra calls on the fast Saturday evening departure from Piraeus to Kos and Rhodes only, and the Sunday evening Rhodes-Kos-Piraeus service. Passengers can of course use them to get to/from Kos or Piraeus as well as Rhodes.
Will this continue after the end of May? It isn’t clear at all, some cynics on Symi are connecting the extra sailing with the timing of the municipal, European and (maybe) Greek national elections. Others say that the Ministry of Marine and Aegean Affairs civil servants are unwilling to authorise extra sailings in June and later when the Minister and Deputy Ministers are highly likely to change either as a result of elections or a pre-election reshuffle. There’s no meeting of the Coastal Shipping Council scheduled (which would provide cover for the civil servants if it happened).
There are several Scandanavian countries which send a high volume of flights into Rhodes on Sundays in summer and this may be useful for tourism if it does continue. Most shops in Rhodes are open on Sundays in summer so shopping trips for Symi residents would also be possible, though the sailings don’t help with medical appointments and meetings with lawyers, accountants, tax offices etc.
Here are the flight tables for summer service from Italy to Rhodes and Kos. Note that Milan Linate airport closes for maintenance from late July for the rest of the summer, and Alitalia flights to Rhodes switch departure point to Malpensa as a result. I’d like to acknowledge the website Rhodes Airport Aviation News which enabled me to make sense of Alitalia’s timetable – certainly Alitalia’s website doesn’t.
Here are the flights tables for services from Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway to Rhodes and Kos for this summer. The Thomas Cook and TUI flights are all charters, only one, two or three week bookings, and no one-way tickets. Why, I don’t know. There are no legal restrictions, the whole route is within the European Common Aviation Area. The two groups of companies have subsidiaries in other European countries that sell seats for longer periods or just one-way, so they already own the software to handle it.
Some holes in the service from Denmark after the collapse of Primera last year.
After some delay, here’s the 2019 flight schedule from the Netherlands to Rhodes and Kos. Both Corendon and TUI Netherlands were expecting deliveries of Boeing 737MAX planes in time to help in high season, that seems less likely now, so alterations are to be expected.
Following the two catastrophic and so far unexplained plane crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that involved brand new Boeing 737 MAX8 aircraft, some people have told me they are concerned that they may be booked to fly on one on their next trip to Rhodes or Kos.
At the time of writing, the following airlines that have flights to Rhodes and Kos in summer 2019 have already taken delivery of MAX8 or the similar but slightly longer MAX9:
Norwegian (but they have voluntarily withdrawn the fleet from service and will use the older and well-proved Boeing 737-800 instead)
Enter Air (planes grounded by Polish national aviation authority decision)
TUI Group (Belgium, Netherlands, Nordic) (TUI UK will not be able to use theirs as the UK has banned MAX8/9 from UK airspace)UPDATE – TUI group has voluntarily grounded all MAX planes.
Corendon (their one plane is not in passenger service yet).
Now all these airlines also have other versions of the Boeing 737 that have a long and safe history, so it isn’t always clear which version they intend to use. The pressure of public and professional opinion seems to be increasing on airlines and national aviation authorities to remove the MAX8 and MAX9 from service until it becomes clear what caused the two crashes, and effective action is taken to resolve any design or training issues involved.
Already the planes are banned in Australia, and a combination of voluntary grounding and national aviation authority action has effectively removed them from South American, Asian and African skies. The UK banned them from its airports and airspace about an hour ago, and now Germany (plus France, Belgium, Poland, Italy, the Netherlands and Ireland) has followed suit. This effectively means that the plane can only reach the Dodecanese from East/Central Europe or the Middle East, and it is strongly rumoured that the whole of Europe will ban MAX planes in a few hours time
Situation is now simple. The 737MAX is now banned from all European airspace, so cannot be used on flights to Greece from anywhere.