Ellinikon International Airport
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|Ellinikon International Airport
Διεθνής Αερολιμένας Ελληνικού
Aerial view of the airport
|Elevation AMSL||21 m / 68 ft|
The airport is closed to all aviation.
Ellinikon International Airport, sometimes spelled Hellinikon (Greek: Ελληνικόν) was the international airport of Athens, Greece for sixty years up until 2001, when it was replaced by the new Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos". The grounds of the airport are located 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) south of Athens, and just west of Glyfada. It was named after the village of Elliniko (Elleniko), now a suburb of Athens. The airport had an official capacity of 11 million passengers per year, but had served 13.5 million passengers per year during its last year of operations.
The airport was built in 1938. The Nazis invaded Greece in 1941, and Kalamaki Airfield (as the site was then known) was used as a Luftwaffe air base during the occupation. After World War II, the Greek government allowed the United States to use the airport from 1945 until 1993. Known as Hassani Airport in 1945, it was used by the United States Army Air Forces as early as 1 October 1945, as a base of operations for Air Transport Command flights between Rome, Italy and points in the Middle East. By agreement with Greece, the USAF operated out of the airport for the next four decades. In 1988, Greece decided not to extend the arrangement, and the USAF concluded its operations there in 1991. The airport was the base of operations by the Greek national carrier Olympic Airways.
The airport had two terminals: the West Terminal for Olympic Airways, and the East Terminal for all other carriers.:27 The East Terminal building was designed between 1960 and 1969 by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen.[additional citation needed] Just before its closure in 2001, the airport recorded a 15.6% growth rate over its previous year, serving 13.5 million passengers per year and handling 57 airlines flying to 87 destinations. The airport's official capacity was 11 million passengers per year.
The airport is bounded in the west by beaches, in the south by the Glyfada Golf Club and the Ellinikon-Glyfada municipal boundary, and by residential area.
In April 2011 the Olympic Airways Museum opened in the West Terminal, including three airplanes that had been parked there since the airport's closure. The Athens radar center is still based at Ellinikon.
During the ongoing European migrant crisis, the abandoned airport has become a shelter for refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Morocco, and other countries. According to the Greek government, as of March 2016 4,120 refugees are living in the airport buildings. Immigration Policy Minister Ioannis Mouzalas told Greek Parliament: “Conditions at Elliniko are not unsuitable, but they are not good and certainly not the conditions we should have for refugees and migrants”, adding that clearing the camp “is a priority.”
After its closure the northwest portion of the airport was redeveloped, converting runways into a sports park that housed the 2004 Summer Olympics venues for canoe/kayak slalom, field hockey, baseball, and softball. Other Olympics-related upgrades to the airport included refitting one of the airport's western hangars to become the main Olympic fencing venue and one of the larger Olympic indoor basketball arenas.
In 2005, the international team, led by architects David Serero, Elena Fernandez, and landscape architect Philippe Coignet, won the competition to design a metropolitan park on the former site of the Ellinikon Airport over more than 300 teams of architects. The competition was sponsored by UIA (International Union of Architects), the Greek Ministry of Environment, and the Organization for the Planning and Environmental Protection of Athens (ORSA). The project was further developed in 2006 and 2007 by this team through two development phases with the planning organizations of Athens. By 2012, government plans to attract investors and develop the site commercially were eclipsing the proposed park, though nearby communities remained vocal about their preference for a park.
Accidents and incidents
Following is a list of accidents/incidents experienced by aircraft that had Ellinikon either as a destination or as a departure point. It only includes events that occurred at the airport or in its vicinities, and only deadly occurrences and/or hull-losses are listed.
- 21 June 1959: Following a tyre burst upon landing, a fire erupted when debris ruptured the fuel lines of a Royal Canadian Air Force Canadair North Star, registration 17525, that was returning to Canada.
- 8 December 1969: Olympic Airways Flight 954, a Douglas DC-6 tail number SX-DAE, crashed into Mount Paneio while on approach to the airport. All 90 passengers and crew on board were killed in the worst aviation disaster ever involving a DC-6.
- 21 October 1972: An Olympic Airways NAMC YS-11A-500, tail number SX-BBQ, that was operating a domestic scheduled Kerkyra–Athens passenger service, crashed into the sea on approach to the airport in poor visibility. There were 53 people aboard, of whom 36 passengers and the co-pilot drowned, while 13 passengers and the remaining three crew members were rescued.
- 23 January 1973: A Piaggio P.136L-2 amphibious plane, tail number SX-BDC, crashed shortly after takeoff from runway 33. The crash occurred as a result of the reversing of the aileron connecting cables during the installation of a new control column on the plane. The aircraft had three passengers, one of whom, Alexander Onassis, died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.
- 8 October 1979: Swissair Flight 316, a Douglas DC-8-62, registration HB-IDE, overran the runway on landing, inbound from Geneva. Both the port wing and the tail separated from the fuselage before the aircraft came to rest. A fire that broke out claimed 14 lives, out of 154 people on board.
- 24 March 1992: A Golden Star Air Cargo Boeing 707-320C, tail number ST-ALX, that was operating an Amsterdam-Athens cargo service, struck Mount Hymettus, 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) southeast of the airport, on a visual approach. There were seven reported fatalities.
- "Airline and Airport Code Search". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- Cooley, Alexander (2008). Base Politics: Democratic Change and the U.S. Military Overseas. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. p. 92. ISBN 9780801446054.
- "Athens Airport: securing a better reputation (page 26)". Flight International. 133 (4114). 21 May 1988. Archived from the original on 1 September 2013.
- "Athens Airport: securing a better reputation (page 27)". Flight International. Archived from the original on 1 September 2013.
It includes a military base, a West Terminal, which is used solely by Olympic Airways, and a newer (1969) East Terminal, which is used by all the other carriers, and which houses the airport management and airline offices.
- "Eero Saarinen: Athens Airport". Canadian Centre for Architecture. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
- Dixon, Tony (February 2010). "Athens International Airport" (PDF). Airliner World. Athens, Greece: Key Publishing. pp. 91–92, 95–96. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
- Vlassis, Gus (3 April 2001). "Olympic's privatisation again in doubt as new Athens hub opens". Athens: Flightglobal. Flight International. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
- Shubert, Atika; Mackay, Mairi; Damon, Arwa. "Refugees in Greece live in Olympic park, old airport". CNN. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Elliniko refugee camp next, after Idomeni is evacuated". ekathimerini.com. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
- Papachlimintzos, Costas (16 July 2012). "Falling short on selloffs (again)". Athens News. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- Accident description for 17525 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 20 January 2012.
- Accident description for SX-DAE at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 6 November 2012.
- Accident description for SX-BBQ at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 20 January 2012.
- "Mr Alexander Onassis.", The Times, London, 24 January 1973, pg. 18
- Accident description for HB-IDE at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 22 January 2012.
- Accident description for ST-ALX at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 22 January 2012.
Media related to Ellinikon International Airport at Wikimedia Commons