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Greece Moving to End Long Airport Delays at Tourism Spots

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(Photo by Eurokinissi/Stefanos Rapanis)

ATHENS -  The boom of tourism during the summer in Greece has brought the bane of increasingly long lines at airports, particularly at popular tourism destinations, leading the Transport Ministry to add extra staff.

That includes more air traffic controllers at the international airport outside Athens, transfer more personnel to the Civil Aviation Authority and the approval of an extra one million euros ($1.12 million) per year to hire and train another 47 controllers, but too late to help for this season.

Increasing flight traffic in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) over the summer months, especially take-off and landings at Greece's busy airports, has caused serious delays on a daily basis, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki, although the airport has consistently been rated one of the best and most efficient in the European Union.

Serious flight delays are also recorded at the pre-eminent tourist destinations, such as Mykonos, Santorini, Irakleio (Heraklion) and Chania (Hania) said the paper, with the delays hampering tourists from making connecting flights out of Athens as well.

Fourteen regional airports were privatized in 2017 but the consortium which took them over, led by a Greek company, said they had been seriously neglected, including lax safety measures and quick steps were taken to fix them.

Among conditions the group found were non-working emergency exits and emergency exit signs, Kathimerini reported. Greek workers have been opposed to privatizations.

“The financial crisis, combined with the long period between the tender for the concession of the airports and their delivery to Fraport Greece, resulted in the de facto abandonment of infrastructure in terms of maintenance and repair work,” an unidentified source in the airline business told the newspaper, pointing to the seriousness of the problem.

Runways were even worse, it was said, indicating the airports were left unmaintained before the lead-up to to the takeover, it was said.