The decision of EasyJet airlines to terminate connections with Thessaloniki is a resounding warning bell for the airport of Greece’s second largest city.
Citing construction work being carried out at the airport, the airline took the decision suddenly, after an interim runway replaced the main runway, which under renovation.
The problems airlines confront at the Macedonia Airport of Thessaloniki are well known. The most serious is the presence of low altitude cloud formations and fog, which at times do not permit the easiest access for aircraft, a factor that has led to many winter flight cancellations. New problems for troubled airport
New problems for troubled airportThe newer problem, according to a report on the Voria.gr website, is that the interim airport runway that has been used since November 23, is not equipped with an instrument landing system (ILS), which enables aircraft by way of transmitted radio signals to land if the pilots are unable to establish visual contact with the runway.
The company notes that the main runway in Thessaloniki has been shut down for repair work, and the interim runway does not have the capacity to meet flight requirements, as it is “unsuitable” for take-offs of the company’s aircraft.
Airlines ‘taken by surprise’
EasyJet says that airlines received no prior notification of the closure of the main runway, that it does not accept the changes proposed by Greek authorities for the temporary operation of the interim runway, and that it is unwilling to undertake the related risks and dangers.
Civil Aviation Authority: interim runway safeThe Greek Civil Aviation Authority and Fraport, which operates the Thessaloniki airport and 13 more in Greece, reply that aside from fog in recent days, no other airline using the Macedonia Airport has raised security issues or announced any changes in their flight to or from Thessaloniki.
Fraport says it will spend at least 400 million euros in renovations of Greek airports by 2021, and will make a one billion euro investment over the entire span of the concession period.
Multiple tests performed on runway
A Civil Aviation Authority team, supervised by Authority chief Konstantinos Lintzerakos conducted test flights on the interim runway on 22 November.
The final tests were conducted with an Aegean Airlines A-320 aircraft, so that it could operate as the main runway.
The Civil Aviation Authority says it gave final approval for use of the interim runway after all tests proved successful.
Construction on the normal main runway is due to be completed in March, 2018, well ahead of the summer tourist season.