Ellinikon International Airport

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Ellinikon International Airport
Ellinikon International Airport ( IATA: ATH, ICAO: LGAT), sometimes spelled Hellinikon (Greek: Ελληνικόν) was the international airport of Athens for sixty years up until 2001 when it was replaced by Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport. It is located 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) south of Athens, and just west of Glyfada. It was named after the village of Elliniko (Elleniko), now a suburb of Athens. The airport had two terminals; the west terminal for Olympic Airways and the east terminal for international flights. Its IATA code of ATH is now used at Eleftherios Venizelos airport. It is bounded by residential houses, beaches in the west and in the south by the wooded trees of the Glyfada Golf Club along with the Ellinikon- Glyfada municipal boundary. After its closure to passenger traffic, the northwest portion of the airport was redeveloped, with runways being converted into a sports park that housed the venues for canoe/kayak slalom, field hockey, baseball, and softball during the 2004 Summer Olympics. Other Olympic-related upgrades to the airport included refitting one of the airport's western hangars to become the main Olympic fencing venues and one of the larger Olympic indoor basketball arenas. Although these massive upgrades changed the northern and western portions of Ellinikon, part of the runway still exists and there is a chance that it will remain in use as a general aviation airport (with a significantly reduced runway). The Athens radar centre is also still based there. There are three aeroplanes for Olympic Airways in west terminal. In 2005, the international team led by architects David Serero, Elena Fernandez and landscape architect Philippe Coignet won the international competition to design a metropolitan park on the former site of the Hellenikon Airport, over more than 300 teams of architects. The competition was sponsored by UIA ( International Union of Architects), the Greek Ministry of Environment and the Organization for the Planning and Environmental Protection of Athens (ORSA). The project was further developed in 2006 and 2007 by this team trough two development phases with the planning organizations of Athens. Serero’s team developed a strategy to landscape and urbanize the 530 hectares of the Hellenikon site by using natural running water patterns on the site as a concept to design the largest sustainable park in Europe. The water used by the park is effectively originating up to 80% of water collected naturally on the site. The project is structured by seven North-South green valleys that are called “ Softscapes”. The “Softscapes” are irrigated corridors that channel and collect rainwater of the site and from the water catchment basin of the surrounding hills. These strips integrate a playful work on artificial topography that both guides the water and create terraces and slopes for the park activities and programs.Today, the main terminal is used for exhibitions and concerts.

The airport was built in 1938, and after the Nazi invasion of Greece in 1941, Kalamaki Airfield was used as a Luftwaffe air base during the occupation. Following the end of World War II, the Greek government allowed the United States to use the airport from 1945 until 1993. Known as Hassani Airport in 1945, it was used by the United States Army Air Forces as early as 1 October 1945, as a base of operations for Air Transport Command flights between Rome, Italy and points in the Middle East. In 1963, the Finnish star architect Eero Saarinen designed the East Terminal building. With the end of the Cold War, it was agreed to end the USAF presence at the airport and the United States closed its facilities in 1993. Prior to closing its passenger service, the airport was serving 12 million passengers per year. The last departure from this airport was an Olympic Airways flight to Thessaloní­ki.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the airport was a major site for attacks relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • June 21, 1959: The C-54 was returning to Canada after a transport flight to Egypt on behalf of the United Nations. A tire burst on landing. A fuel line ruptured and a fire erupted.
Crashed on approach.
  • December 12, 1969: Ethiopian Airlines Shortly after the Ethiopian plane took off from Madrid for Rome, a Yemeni hijacker entered the cockpit waving a pistol and ordered the pilot to fly to Aden. The pilot said that he would need to refuel at Rome, but the flight was not allowed to land there.
  • October 12, 1972: Olympic Airways en from Corfu to Athens, Crashed in sea while approaching Athens in reduced visibility.
A security guard went to the cockpit and killed the hijacker. An accomplice armed with a knife ran forward but he was killed by another security guard before he could reach the cockpit. The airplane landed safely at Athens.
  • August 5, 1973: Two Palestinian gunmen claiming to represent Black September fire on travelers in a crowded TWA passenger lounge, killing five and wounding fifty-five.
  • September 8, 1974: TWA Flight 841, en route from Ellinikon to Rome, crashed 18 minutes after take-off in what was later determined to be a bombing.
  • June 27, 1976: Air France Flight 139, en route from Tel Aviv to Paris via Ellinikon, was hijacked to Benghazi and Entebbe.
  • October 8, 1979: a Swissair flight en route from Geneva to various cities in the Orient via Ellinikon, operated by a 1967-build Douglas DC8 named Uri, landing at night, touched down 740m after crossing the threshold, with an airspeed of 146 knots. The jetliner went off the end of the runway and crashed on a public road, with the tail and left wing ripped off. Post-crash fire claimed the lives of 14 passengers.
  • June 14, 1985: TWA Flight 847, en route from Ellinikon to Rome, was hijacked to Beirut and Algiers repeatedly.
  • November 14, 1985: EgyptAir Flight 648, en route from Ellinikon to Cairo, was hijacked to Malta.
The airport was also the destination point of two attacked aircraft:
  • August 29, 1969: TWA Flight 840, en route from Rome to Ellinikon, was hijacked by PFLP terrorists to Damascus.
  • April 2, 1986: The same route, TWA Flight 840, also from Rome to Ellinikon, was bombed, resulting in four people being sucked out of the plane to their deaths. The plane landed safely.

Film use
The 1986 Menahem Golan movie, The Delta Force, used the exterior of the airport in the Athens International Airport scene which one of the Lebanese terrorists exits a taxi.


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Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via Annotator
  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated a digital reference and added a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com