The old abandoned airport of Athens

The old airport of Athens

Elliiniko International Airport 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 Hellinikon.

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 Hellinikon 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, Hellinikon airport will remain an abandoned site.