This is a post by author Dimitra Kiriakopoulou. Dimitra is the Operations and Customer Care Director for Universal Aviation Greece, which has an aircraft ground-handling facility in Athens. Dimitra is an expert on business aircraft operations in Greece and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the summer months, it’s best to plan as far in advance as possible for business aircraft operations to popular Greek destinations, in order to enjoy the best options in terms of aircraft parking, hotels, services and fuel uplifts. Particularly when operating to smaller island locations, be sure to confirm airport curfews, parking restrictions and local procedures with your ground handler.
Here is some information to help you with your planning:
1. Island destinations are busy during high season
The high season in Greece runs March through October, with the busiest period typically late April through late September. The most popular destinations in Greece during the high season are island and resort locations near the sea.
2. Know the most popular/busy general aviation destinations
Mikonos (LGMK) and Santorini (LGSR) are very popular islands and top destinations each summer for high-end tourism. Another popular destination is Kerkyra or Corfu (LGKR), which was originally under Venetian rule and has preserved the Venetian style and heritage. Yachting activity is a big attraction at both Kefallina (LGKF) and Skiathos (LGSK),while Thessaloniki (LGTS) is heavily visited by tourists, who enjoy high-end resorts in the region. Not to be ignored are the very popular islands of Crete and Rhodes. Iraklion (LGIR) is a top destination for Crete due to the palace of Knossos, while Rhodes (LGRP) is a frequently visited UNESCO World Heritage site.
3. Know operating hours at these airports
LGIR, LGRP, LGKR and LGTS operate 24/7, while the other airports operate for specific hours (as advised by notice to airmen [NOTAM]) around March, before the summer season begins. It’s possible to request overtime at certain locations, but always confirm this with your ground handler. Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) is available at all of the above airports during normal operating hours, and only LGKR demands Prior Permission Required (PPR). You will need to secure parking permission from local authorities for both private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights, in order to obtain permission to land.
4. Be aware of CIQ procedures
None of the above airports have general aviation terminals (GAT), so you’ll clear CIQ in the main passenger terminal. Your ground handler will submit passenger and crew data in advance and escort passengers and crew with luggage to the terminal for clearance. Ground handlers usually arrange priority passport control and screening for GA operations. If the flight is arriving from or departing to a European Union (EU) location, no passport control or customs are applicable; however, you’ll need to present identification. The clearance process is usually no more than one to two minutes per passenger on arrival, and three to four minutes on departure. For operations to/from non-EU destinations, passport control and customs are applicable, and the clearance process typically requires five minutes per passenger.
5. Provide lead time for parking and other services
When planning operations to popular Greek destinations during the summer months, it’s best to submit parking and service requests at least a week in advance. Keep in mind that the process starts over with every time an approved schedule is revised, as each revision is considered a new request. Parking requests are handled on a first-come, first-serve basis, but it’s rare for local authorities to deal with parking requests more than a week before the estimated time of arrival (ETA). Last-minute requests will be considered, so long as there’s enough space available for aircraft parking.
6. Request ground handling and services as early as possible
Ground handling and services can be arranged at all destinations even with last-minute requests. Some services – such as limos – may be limited at certain island destinations, and hotel options are very restricted during high season. Hotels typically impose higher prices and extended cancellation policies. For that reason, it’s best to book hotel accommodations as soon as the schedule is known. Credit can be arranged for all services with advanced notice. Jet A1 is available at all locations, and major aviation fuel cards are usually accepted. Be mindful that GA is typically last priority for airport fuelers, and fuel uplift delays can be a factor at popular Greek destinations during the high season. At some locations, such as LGSK, only certain aviation fuel cards are accepted, so it’s best to check with your ground handler in advance.
7. Airport security is good at Greek airports
Airport security throughout Greece is coordinated by local police, all airports are adequately fenced, and security patrols are conducted. It’s usually possible to arrange unarmed private security for your aircraft, but your ground handler will need to escort and remain with security personnel while on the ramp.
When revising a summer month operating schedule to Greece, be mindful that there may be issues with aircraft parking, hotels and service availability. During busy summer months, it’s always best to try to stick to your original, approved schedule.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at email@example.com.
About Dimitra Kiriakopoulou
Dimitra Kiriakopoulou is the operations and customer care director for Universal Aviation Greece. Based in Athens, Dimitra has nearly a decade’s experience in the business aviation industry and with Universal Aviation Greece. An expert in business aviation operations to Greece, Dimitra is fluent in Greek, Italian, and English. Dimitra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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