Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The old airport of Athens


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. Those plans failed though due to the economic crisis that followed and today's government is seeking an investor that will develop the site commercially. Until then, Ellinikon airport will remain an abandoned site.


SEE ALSO: More abandoned airports // More abandoned places in Greece // LIST OF ALL DESERTED PLACES 
For more deserted places, LIKE US on Facebook and FOLLOW US on twitter


(Click here for the full post)







































Helliniko Airport in 2002

Helliniko Airport in 2012


~

7 comments:

  1. "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."

    This is inaccurate. It's a common misconception that the Olympics spurred the new airport, but construction for Eleftherios Venizelos actually started in 1996. Athens wasn't awarded the 2004 Olympics until 1997. Prior to construction starting, the decision to build the new airport was finalized in 1995.

    The reason it was put on hold for so long (1970s to 1990s) is because the new airport was a controversial project. The idea to build a new, larger airport in the Mesogeia Valley -displacing some vineyards and olive orchards- had been floating since the 1970s, but there was opposition to it, especially from PASOK who was in power in the 1980s. But there was a serious need for a new airport, and the idea became reality in the 1990s. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Agree with Dimitri I loved the old airport it was vibrant and cosy. It really felt like you landed in Athens. This airport will remain a big part of Hellenic history. Sad to see it fade away.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi, thanks for the great article, is it easy to go in ?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Does someone know if it's possible to go inside ?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I found some articles suggesting there are refugees living in the old airport. On my way to Athens at the moment so i'll check it out this weekend and report back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is an unofficial camp which means people there live in very poor conditions. The government is reluctant to evacuate them so far although they've said they'll do so many times.

      Delete

Spam comments will not be posted. Thank you.