Greece’s new deputy infrastructure and transport minister, Yiannis Kefalogiannis, said this week that immediate action would be taken to address the issue of flight delays at Athens International Airport (AIA) and at other facilities across Greece.
More specifically, after meeting with representatives from the Greek Air Traffic Controllers Association, the minister called for the relocation of four air traffic controllers based in Thessaloniki to AIA.
Other actions include approving the transfer of 13 employees to the air traffic control department as well as funds for the employment of 47 additional controllers.
Greek airports, particularly those in Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Heraklion, and Chania, have repeatedly been singled out for the frequency and duration of delays, particularly in the summer peak season.
AIA was ranked third among 25 European airports for the number of delays, which doubled over the 2017-2018 period. According to Eurocontrol, flight delays at Athens Airport increased by 237 percent in 2018 against 2017.
Indicatively, six or seven air traffic controllers work in the summer season handling 24-hour operations. As a result, Air Traffic Control has called for restrictions on the number (at 22) of incoming and outgoing flights per hour.
According to AIA data, on an average summer day this year, the airport handles a total of 764 aircraft movements in eight key time slots: 10am (61 aircraft); 5am (47); 5pm (45), 11am and noon (45 movements each); 2pm and 4 pm (42); and 6pm (40).
It should be reminded that last month, the European Commission said it had approved funds to go toward establishing AIA into a high-performing hub within the European Air Traffic Management Network.
AIA was the first Greek airport to be selected by the EU under the “Connecting Europe Facility – Transport Sector” program, aimed at creating the “Single European Sky” (SESAR).