Elliniko International Airport (also spelled Hellinikon) was the first, and for all its 60 years of operation, primary airport of the Greek capital. Its construction begun in 1938 but was cut short due to World War II. During the Nazi occupation of Greece, Kalamaki airfield, as it was known then, was used as a Luftwaffe base. After the end of occupation, a second runway and later, in 1969, a second terminal were constructed. Olympic Airways, the Greek national carrier used the West Terminal for its flights while all other airlines operated through the newly constructed East Terminal.
Even from the 70's it was obvious that the airport was nearing full capacity and Athens needed a newer airport, further away from the city center. The location was chosen early on but the construction begun only after Athens was given the 2004 Olympics. Eleftherios Venizelos airport finally opened on March 27th 2001. On the same day, an Olympic Airways Boeing 737 bound for Thessaloniki was the last flight to depart Ellinikon.
After its closure, the western part of its runways was redeveloped. An Olympic Complex was constructed with venues of Canoe/Kayak, Hockey, Baseball and other sports. Those venues though were mostly left abandoned after the 2004 Olympics. At that time, the Greek government pledged to turn Ellinikon into the largest metropolitan park of Athens area, with a small portion only sold to private developers. Finally, in 2015 a Greek-Chinese-UAE fund bought the former airport for €915 million to implement a redevelopment project that will include a 500 acre Metropolitan park, as well as residential and commercial development. However, plans were once again stalled as the current government is against the redevelopment of the area. Since the summer of 2015, an unofficial refugee camp maintained by NGOs has been housed at the abandoned Ellinikon airport.
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|Helliniko Airport in 2002|
|Helliniko Airport in 2012|