This is a post by author Dimitra Kiriakopoulou. Dimitra is the operations and customer care director for Universal Aviation Greece – Athens, 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.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Greece and continues from our last article: "Business Aircraft Operations in Greece: Flight Planning, Weather, and NOTAMs."
As long as you have correct documentation on hand, business aircraft operations to Greece are usually easy and straightforward. There’s almost always aircraft parking available – at many airports with advance notice – and adequate services can be obtained. Even at more remote destinations, or in the case of last-minute requests, ground handlers will usually be able to source various accommodation options.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. What are documentation requirements for Greece?
A valid passport is required for all non-European Union (EU) nationals. EU nationals should always either carry a driving license, national ID, or passport. Citizens of countries requiring visas to enter the EU need to secure Schengen visas prior to arrival in Greece. A visa valid for any Schengen country is accepted by all Schengen member states. Be mindful that visas cannot be obtained on arrival, and passengers/crew members without appropriate visas may be immediately deported. There may be mandated visa requirements for specific nationalities – including requirements for extended passport validity or evidence of return transportation out of Greece. It’s best to confirm the requirements for appropriate nationalities with your ground handler.
2. Is driving or renting vehicles advised?
Rental vehicles are an option for experienced drivers with some familiarity of the local area. Most national highways are in good condition, and driving within city limits is relatively straightforward. There are still, however, many roads – mostly in the country and on the islands – that can be very narrow and equipped with few traffic signs or signals. Furthermore, traffic in major cities like Athens can be very congested at times, so in those situations you may want to arrange a driver who is familiar with the local area.
3. Are there security considerations off-airport?
Security and/or safety concerns for those visiting Greece are no different from such issues in other European countries. It’s always best to practice basic security awareness. Certain small areas of Athens (LGAV) and Thessaloniki (LGTS) should be avoided due to petty crime.
4. Do things shut down during bank holidays?
Greece, like other EU countries, has many published bank holidays. Off-airport services, however, remain generally available during these times. Some bank holidays to be aware of include May 1, June 24, August 15, October 28, and December 25/26.
5. Are a full range of hotel options available country-wide?
The Athens area has a large number of 4- and 5-star hotels – including large international chains –both downtown and close to the airport. It’s always recommended to book 4-star and above accommodations for crew. At regional airports in Greece, you’ll normally find good 4-star hotels although not always the major international chains. With the exception of Athens and Thessaloniki – which have airport hotels – plan on a 10-15 minute drive to local hotel options.
6. What about hotel availability high season?
Summer in Greece is far busier than winter, and it will not always be possible to book accommodations at specific hotels. If you’re looking for a particular hotel in Greece during high season, it’s best to book at least a couple of weeks in advance. Otherwise, your ground handler will be able to source alternate 4- and 5-star options in most cases. It’s rare for hotel accommodations, in any area of Greece, to completely sell out. That has not happened since the Olympic Games of 2004 and the Champions Football League finals in 2007. Be aware, however, that room rates are much higher during July and August at popular Greek island locations.
7. What are other hotel considerations?
Courtesy transportation is often offered between airports and hotels on the islands, but that is not common in major centers such as Athens. It’s best to work with your ground handler regarding local transport options. Hotels in Greece often include breakfast and Internet access in room rates. Early check-in and late check-out options will depend on the hotel.
8. Do ground handlers offer preferred hotel rates?
In many cases ground handlers have signed contracts with preferred hotels and are often able to offer discounted rates to crew members. Room rates depend on the location and category of the hotel. Rates for good 3- and 4-star hotels start from 70-80 Euros/night, while rates at deluxe resorts – such as on Mikonos (LGMK) or Santorini (LGSR) – can be over 250 Euros/night. Last-minute hotel requests can usually be accommodated by ground handlers in Greece. Rates during winter are usually much lower, and you may find deluxe 5-star properties at under 100 Euros/night. Cancellation policies depend on the season. Winter cancellation policy is normally 24 hours, but ground handlers may be able to help avoid these fees. During summer, and especially on the islands, cancellation fee is usually the first night charge. Some reservations, however, are 100% non-refundable. Always check hotel cancellation policies when making reservations.
9. Additional reading: "Business Aircraft Operations in Greece" series index
Links will be added as new articles are published.
- Part 1 – Airports Ops
- Part 2 – Ground handling
- Part 3 – CIQ
- Part 4 – Fuel, Security, and Other Services
- Part 5 – Permits and PPRs
- Part 6 – Flight Planning and Weather
- Part 7 – Hotels and Local Area
Operators with very specific hotel, local transportation, and/or service requests should take the opportunity to make arrangements with as much lead time as possible. Although short-notice operations to Greece are seldom problematic, certain preferred accommodation and service options may not be available at the last minute.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Greece, contact me at email@example.com.
Category : Best Practice
About Dimitra Kiriakopoulou
Dimitra Kiriakopoulou is the operations and customer care director for Universal Aviation Greece – Athens. Based in Athens, Dimitra has over 15 yeas experience in the business aviation industry and with Universal Aviation Greece – Athens. 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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