Business Aircraft Ops in Greece during Peak Season – Part 1: Airports & Parking
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 the first of a two-part blog on traveling to Greece during the peak season.
Strategically located between Europe, Africa and Asia, Greece attracts general aviation (GA) movements for business, tourism, and tech stops. While primary business destinations are Athens and Thessaloniki, dozens of popular island locations provide a constant magnet for GA traffic during the April – September high season. However, access and parking challenges must always be at top of mind awareness during busy summer seasons, so advanced notice is always recommended.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Popular destinations
Popular destinations in Greece include Athens (LGAV), Santorini (LGSR), Mikonos (LGMK), Corfu (LGKR), Rhodes (LGRP), Chania (LGSA), Iraklion (LGIR), Kefallinia (LGKF), Preveza (LGPZ) and Thessaloniki (LGTS). Note that LGPZ is a military airport that’s now accepting commercial and GA traffic and requires, as published by NOTAM, a lead time of four working days and a minimum 48 hours prior notice to process prior permission required (PPR). In general, a PPR for any joint military/civil airport requires a minimum lead time of four working days.
2. Aircraft parking challenges
Many popular destinations in Greece cannot provide overnight GA parking due to limited parking stands. Some locations have issued NOTAMs requiring 48 hours’ notice for any GA operating request. For example, LGMK has only three-four parking spots to accommodate both scheduled commercial and GA aircraft, and there is a NOTAM that limits GA parking to just one hour on the ground June through September. While drop and goes are always an option at LGMK, you’ll need to carefully juggle the schedule based on available PPRs and airport slots. Zakynthos (LGZA) has just three GA parking spots, and these are usually reserved weeks in advance. Be mindful that operating flexibility is restricted by night curfews at many airports while slot availability is very limited at others. Best option in Greece for overnight and longer term parking is LGAV, a 24-hour airport of entry (AOE) with no slot requirements and plenty of parking space.
3. Airport overtime – a thing of the past
While airport overtime had been possible in the past, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has implemented a regulation prohibiting overtime, other than for air ambulance and approved diplomatic flights. Note that your ground handler will always request overtime for your schedule, on an as needed basis. However, authorities are very strict on this regulation and will only approve it for specific cases.
4. Support services
When requesting ground handling, it’s important to provide full schedule, operator name, aircraft type and registry, maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) and – if known – passenger and crew names. While smaller airports have certain limitations in terms of GA support services and infrastructure, adequate handling and credit can be set up with sufficient pre-planning. We recommend notifying ground handlers of arrivals at least 48 hours prior to the estimated time of arrival (ETA).
5. Fuel uplifts
While most airports in Greece have Jet A-1 available, there are limited options in terms of fuel providers. Be aware that GA uplift delays are relatively common during peak travel days as scheduled commercial operations always take priority. As peak operating hours vary airport to airport it’s best to confirm these periods in advance. For example, Mondays and Fridays are often peak arrival/departure periods. In the case of LGMK, Saturday is one of the slowest days of the week as most GA arrivals occur before this and stay over the weekend.
6. Tech stops
The best place for an international tech stop is LGAV as no airport slots are required, traffic congestion is manageable, fuel services are 24/7, and quick turns are efficient. Other tech stops to consider include LGTS and LGIR, both 24-hour airports of entry AOE with sufficient infrastructure and services to facilitate quick turn fuel uplifts.
7. Hotels and local transport
Crew accommodation can be extremely limited, and enormously expensive, at certain island locations during high season. For example, if you’re able to find crew accommodations at LGSR you may need to split up at different hotels and room prices could be several hundred Euros/night. The going rate for high season 4-star crew accommodations at most popular island destinations is about 350 Euros/night.
In terms of local travel, prepaid transport (car with driver) options are often scarce and may not be available on particular days. Vehicle selection is limited and rather than limos or SUVs you’ll likely end up in mini buses. For those planning to use public taxis, it’s best to arrange this via your ground handler or hotel, to ensure prices are fixed. We do not recommend rental vehicles for crews not familiar with the region as traffic can be chaotic, road signage is limited and parking can be difficult.
When operating to popular destinations in Greece between April and September it’s important to consider access and parking limitations along with airport curfews. Short notice requests may be a challenge to operate on your planned schedule and to park overnight at preferred destinations. However, providing advanced notice for operations to these popular destinations will allow your 3rd-party provider and ground handler to provide you with additional options. Hotels can be a concern for certain high traffic destinations, especially at short notice.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers permits, PPRs, airport slots, customs, and immigration when traveling to Greece during the summer months.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Greece, contact me at email@example.com.