Ellinikon International Airport

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Ellinikon International Airport

Διεθνής Αερολιμένας Ελληνικού
Hellinikon Airport aerial view 1998-3-9.png
Aerial view of the airport
Airport typeCivilian
Elevation AMSL21 m / 68 ft
Coordinates37°53′54″N 23°43′46″E / 37.89833°N 23.72944°E / 37.89833; 23.72944
Direction Length Surface
m ft
15L/33R 3,500 11,483 Paved
15R/33L 3,148 10,331 Paved

Ellinikon International Airport (IATA: ATH, ICAO: LGAT), 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. 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 IATA code formerly used for the airport is now in use for Eleftherios Venizelos Airport.[1]


Olympic Airways Boeing 707 taking off from Ellenikon in 1973
Douglas DC-3 of the Hellenic CAA at Ellinikon Airport in April 1973
An Olympic Airways Boeing 747-200B seconds before landing at the airport in 1996.

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.[2] 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.[3]:27 The East Terminal building was designed between 1960 and 1969 by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen.[4][additional citation(s) needed] Before its closure, the airport was serving 12 million passengers per year. The last aircraft to depart from Ellinikon was an Olympic Airways Boeing 737 bound for Thessaloníki.[5]

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.

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.[6]

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.

Film use

The 1986 Menahem Golan movie, The Delta Force, used the exterior of the airport in the Athens International Airport scene which one of the Lebanese terrorists exits a taxi.

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.

Accidents involving fatalities

HB-IDE, a Swissair DC-8-62, overran the runway on landing at the airport on 8 October 1979.
  • 8 December 1969: Olympic Airways Flight 954, a Douglas DC-6 tail number SX-DAE, crashed into Mt. Parnes 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.[7]
  • 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 57 people aboard, of whom 37 lost their lives in the accident.[8]
  • 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.[9]
  • 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.[10]

Non-fatal hull-losses

See also


  1. ^ "Airline and Airport Code Search". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  2. ^ Cooley, Alexander (2008). Base Politics: Democratic Change and the U.S. Military Overseas. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. p. 92. ISBN 9780801446054.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Eero Saarinen: Athens Airport". Canadian Centre for Architecture. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Papachlimintzos, Costas (16 July 2012). "Falling short on selloffs (again)". Athens News. Retrieved 20 December 2012.[dead link]
  7. ^ Accident description for SX-DAE at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 6 November 2012.
  8. ^ Accident description for SX-BBQ at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 20 January 2012.
  9. ^ Accident description for HB-IDE at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 22 January 2012.
  10. ^ Accident description for ST-ALX at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 22 January 2012.
  11. ^ Accident description for 17525 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 20 January 2012.

External links