Aegean is backing an extension of the tourism season in Greece despite this posing “financial risk” to the airline.

The Greek carrier made the disclosure while reporting 7% growth in passenger carryings to 11.6 million in the first nine months of 2019.

The increase was almost entirely due to an 11% rise in international flights to carry with an extra 700,000 passengers flown over the same period last year.

International carryings reached 6.8 million in the nine months as 715,000 seats were added to the network.

Aegean’s Athens hub saw an 11% increase in international traffic while growth of 8% was recorded across bases in Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Chania, Rhodes and Kalamata.

The airline said: “The systematic effort to expand the tourism season by activating the bulk of the fleet at the beginning of the tourist season, as it was done this year, poses a financial risk to the company, but it is necessary both for fleet utilisation and for enhancing tourism and it ultimately yields results.

“This strategy is being continued by an equally significant increase in available seats during the upcoming winter season and by the retention of more destinations.

“Therefore, by the end of the year, the number of offered seats will reach 17.6 million, including 10.2 million seats that will be reserved for international flights.”

Aegean’s schedule for summer 2020 is expected to be released by the end of October.