Interview with Mr. Panos Dikaios, CEO, Attica Group, Greece

Interview with Mr. Panos Dikaios, CEO, Attica Group, Greece


Could you provide us with an overview of the core services offered by Attica through its brands, as well as key destinations included in your ferry services?

First, I would like to highlight the vital role of the ferry industry for Greece.  The country’s unique morphology includes 115 inhabited islands. Most of these are not connected to the mainland via aerial routes, and so ferry shipping serves a core infrastructure role facilitating the day-to-day transportation of the habitants, providing cargo transportation services for essential supplies, and enabling the tourism journey and experience. Consequently, the sector has a great impact on the domestic economy with a contribution to the GDP amounting to 7,4% according to a study conducted by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research in 2021.

Attica Group plays a leading role in this vital industry for Greece. We are listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, and we boast a fleet of 45 vessels under five brands: Superfast Ferries, Blue Star Ferries, Hellenic Seaways and ANEK Lines, our most recent acquisition, serving 63 destinations in Greece, Italy, Spain and Morocco.

Besides providing day to day connection to the Greek islands we also have a pivotal role in connecting Greece with Italy via itineraries connecting the ports of Patras, Igoumenitsa and Corfu to Venice, Bari and Ancona respectively. Annually, we transport over 6 million passengers, 1 million private vehicles and 423,000 freight units, excluding the volumes of ANEK.


You merged with ANEK last December. Could you elaborate on your expansion plans? What types of partnerships and acquisitions are you currently seeking?

We have recently completed a round of acquisitions, including the merger of ANEK and Hellenic Seaways in 2018. Our current focus is on integrating ANEK, leveraging its economies of scale and operational capabilities.

We are constantly exploring new opportunities to grow further in core and adjacent areas such as the hospitality sector, where we have also expanded, acquiring 2 island hotels in Naxos and Tinos, aiming to serve a wider range of our customers’ needs.


Carbon emissions from the cruise and shipping industry are significant, making it crucial to address in transitioning to a cleaner, more sustainable future. What are your sustainability strategies focused on and could you outline your roadmap for becoming more sustainable? 

A couple of years ago, we designed our 10-year roadmap for decarbonization, focusing on three key pillars. Firstly, we are implementing numerous readily available technologies onboard our ships to improve efficiency, reduce fuel consumption, and lower emissions. Secondly, we are prioritizing the selective retrofitting of vessels with greener technologies. Thirdly, we are planning investments for the construction of newbuilding vessels, promoting the transition to clean energy. This approach is continuously evolving alongside advancements in fuel technologies, though challenges persist regarding fuel availability and discussions surrounding alternative fuels. Our primary focus remains on addressing these challenges, which are critical for our industry, on a global scale.

Our core competence lies in designing and building vessels, with over 30 vessels constructed globally and investments exceeding 2 billion euros in shipyards worldwide, including Greece. In December 2023, we signed an MOU with Elefsis Shipyards. This strategic partnership focuses on fleet maintenance, green retrofits, and new building constructions. In this context, we are contemplating a newbuilding, the first in Greece, in 17 years.


Greece is significantly ramping up its efforts in digitizing public services and beyond. How is your company accelerating its incorporation of the latest technologies such as AI, automation and more?

The Greek ferry industry has been slow to embrace digital evolution. However, at Attica Group we have initiated significant projects to address this need. Our primary focus is on a comprehensive digital customer experience project, launched a year ago and set to continue until early 2025. This project aims to provide customers with enhanced value throughout a multichannel and targeted digital journey, that addresses their personalized needs, from trip planning to return and cash out of benefits.

Additionally, we are implementing various initiatives to digitize our fleet infrastructure, incorporating sensors and AI to enable efficiencies as well as real-time data analysis for quicker, data-driven decisions. Our approach encompasses digitization efforts across customer interactions, infrastructure and administrative functions, aiming for a holistic digital transformation.


Regarding innovation, what are some of the proudest or most innovative services your company has recently introduced?

The three new AERO vessels built in Norway for Hellenic Seaways’ Saronic Gulf route represent a significant innovation. Constructed from lightweight carbon fiber to reduce emissions and fuel consumption, these vessels offer customers a completely new and more comfortable travel experience. The new vessel has contributed to a substantial 20% increase in the number of visitors on the island served, stimulating economic development. This reflects the vital role that ferry connections play in supporting island economies and fostering growth.


Greece experienced an exceptional year in tourism, surpassing the record set in 2019 with 33 million visitors. This year, it’s anticipated that there will be an additional 1 million American visitors. How significant is the American market for your company in terms of incoming visitors and what efforts are being made to target them for your services?

The US market is increasingly significant, with a substantial spending capacity. Our vessels serve as ambassadors for Greek tourism, offering visitors a memorable holiday experience. Traveling by ferry is often an integral part of their vacation and our vessels provide high-quality service, consistently satisfying American travellers.


Your brands resonate with travelers during their time in Greece, enhancing the country’s global appeal. How are you reinforcing your brands’ strengths through marketing and branding efforts to become beloved by travelers?

We strive to maintain close connections with both domestic and European markets, leveraging social media and digital marketing to reach audiences more effectively than traditional channels. Exploring partnerships for group packages is another avenue we are pursuing to further enhance our offerings. In addition to commercial activities, the extensive reach across numerous destinations and consistent excellence of service have turned Attica Group’s brands into Greek love brands.  Our sustainability efforts are ingrained within our company’s culture, with specific targets set every three years to enhance our ESG performance. Our proudest achievement lies in our social impact, particularly in supporting our island communities with actions addressing needs related to education, sports, environment, health and civilization.


How would you summarize your current priorities as CEO and your vision for the years ahead?

As the biggest player in the Greek ferry industry, we plan to lead the way into the future by prioritizing a series of investments towards decarbonization, fleet renewal and digitalization.  Our talented seafarers and shore-based employees are the driving force behind our efforts thus, we continuously invest in their development. Together we aim at growing further, setting higher standards for the industry and providing a customer experience which exceeds all market expectations.


How interested is Attica Group in seeking international partnerships for technology transfer?

As decarbonization poses a significant challenge for our sector globally, necessitating collaboration, we recently partnered with Elefsis Shipyards. We aim to increase investments in similar collaborations with providers of research, technology and alternative fuels, to facilitate mutual learning and complete the infrastructure chain required for decarbonization.


What is your final message to our readers?

The Ferry sector is a core infrastructure for Greece with great impact on the islands’ daily life, and our tourism product, as well as a significant contribution to the domestic economy.

In Attica Group we are conscious of our key role within the wider ecosystem in which we operate, and we are committed to value creation for all our stakeholders.