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Secrets of Greece?

Hi Petakas,

GA in Greece is a bother for all involved in serving it.

Oh wonderful. Well, in that case, I can only say, I am glad I did not bother anyone so far and took my hard earned cash to somewhere where GA is regarded as easy money on top of the airlines.

It is a very tiny piece of the pie and hence no one bothers to take it seriously as a clientele.

And why do you think it is so small? Look at Croatia, where there is a lot of GA traffic because they are so open and forthcoming. Many small airports including those on islands have Avgas and Customs. Consequently they do get the traffic. The large airports will accomodate GA as a by the by, they do not feel bothered in the least.

From an environment (I assume) you are coming from its logical to see things this way.

Well, let me tell you, things are anything but easy going where I do come from, as we are regarded as vermin at the larger airports in this country as well and fought against by airport authorities, who wish us gone and try to kill off GA at their airports with outrageous fees and slots, but we do have a lot of smaller airports who cater for small GA but lack other things like opening hours, night lights or customs. But it is a fight. The difference is, there are still people here who will fight and try their utmost to keep the authorities from locking GA out. So I know well what you are up against. Personally my preferred flying takes place in Slovenia/Croatia as well as France and Austria and to some extent Germany. Switzerland is still ok, apart from the larger airports who wish GA to die out faster than they can rise calculate the landing fee for one single airliner.

I come here to enjoy your country, not your service", soon they forget the negative experiences and enjoy the rest which always pay back.

Absolutely. I have been in Greece many times and enjoy it tremendously. That is why I am sad I can't currently operate there because of the Avgas availability plus the PPR rules. I could go to Kerkira but with their PPR rules, which require prior permission days in advance plus the missing alternates, it would be a major planning hassle to do so. I can't operate anywhere else right now, because from Kerkira I can't reach any of the other Avgas airports within my reserve policy, which is to have one other avgas airport plus 45'. At least that is what it was last time I looked.

Personally, I see the lack of Avgas a major problem which may be one of the reasons GA will die in Europe faster than we think. Italy as well as Greece are a major problem in that regard even now. Spain is fast going the same way, but for other reasons. It is however up to the AOPA's and pilots within their own country to try to keep GA alive. Those who think it is not worth bothering, will find themselfs without it sooner or later.

Best regards Urs

LSZH, Switzerland

Actually there are many N European airports where parking is rationed according to who you "pay off".

For example here at La Rochelle you won't get hard parking unless you throw money to the handling agent - regardless of the actual parking space.

Greece does have some "problem airports" e.g. Mykonos but most Greek airports are easy.

The business with paying more for a non EU departure can be handled by filing for EU and diverting, with a suitable choice of route.

Urs - see my Greek trip reports. I have very few issues flying there, by careful planning. Justine and I always enjoy the great country and the nice people.

Greece will never be a "Germany" and I am very happy for that. Don't take this the wrong way but how many people would take a summer holiday in Germany or Switzerland?

Does Brindisi have avgas? Last time I checked it did not.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Greece will never be a "Germany" and I am very happy for that. Don't take this the wrong way but how many people would take a summer holiday in Germany or Switzerland?

Foreign tourists in Greece per year: ca 15 million

Foreign tourists in Germany per year: ca 23.5 million

Foreign tourists in Switzerland per year: ca 15 million

While I share your fondness of Greece, I think summer is the worst time to go there. It's crowded and the weather is unbearable. The service is much better outside the main holiday months. Also I don't think Greece would ever attract a lot of GA tourism because it is very far away from the rest of Europe thus very expensive to even get to.

With Urs' attitude end ends up staying at home...

Peter,

Actually there are many N European airports where parking is rationed according to who you "pay off".

Ugh. Do tell. I don't want to go there. Not ever.

Greece will never be a "Germany" and I am very happy for that. Don't take this the wrong way but how many people would take a summer holiday in Germany or Switzerland?

Nor should it be. But it is quite stupid to have a good infrastructure wasted by mismanagement of this scale. And if we compare: Bulgaria, poorer and possibly less developed: All large airports are 24 hours open and have customs. Not all have Avgas but there are enough small ones who do and who are happy to sell it to you. Plovdiv for instance is open 24 hours despite the fact that they have very few traffic but if you need it, they are there. That is whom I compare to, these airports in Greece handle much more traffic, yet they close down for most of the productive day. Why? Likewise Avgas. Of course there is no demand if nobody goes there. That snake bites it's own tail. Again, I am working with the good folks at Plovdiv, who don't have Avgas either but are desparate for traffic, to get a browser there. Once they have it, they will have more traffic.

And yea, airports with lots of traffic and GA? Go try Belgrade. TOP service for GA; low landing and handling fees, low fuel price and you never even need to go into the building, they come by car to you to get payment at the aircraft, will take your flight plan and you can turn around in 30 minutes. Or you can stay for a week. Prior notice? Appreciated but if you forget it, they'll accept you anyway.

You are right of course, Brindisi does not have Avgas. That means Bari, who do but apparently not reliably so. So basically it's either Dubrovnik or possibly Podgorica, both 200 NM away.So actually once in Kerkira, things start to become manageable.

Of course you are in a different situation with your airplane, you have the range to land with 3 hours remaining and still have a few hours worth to actually do the trip.

Had a look today using Skyvector, just very rudimentary. Distances:

LDDU-LGKR = 200 NM LGKR-LGAV = 220 NM

LGKR-LGST = 400 NM, Alternate LGIR 50 NM. So that is a Go, LGIR is listed to have Avgas. Planned ARA-DDM-MIL-SAN-SIT

LGKR-LGSM = 390 NM, Alternate LGKO 55 NM (or vice versa), also feasible. Planned via ARA-DDM-KEA-MKN-IKA

Rhodes is reachable from Samos or Kos with return to starting point.

So you were right, both of you, it is feasible with proper planning. Certainly helps that also Athens has Avgas (2 airports there). On the way back, it would be almost without alternative to land and fuel there, as Kerkira with the nearest alternate 180-200 NM away is no go otherwise...

So if they get the opening hours corresponding to something reasonable (if there is ATC, open for GA for starters) or maybe stop worrying where to park a small plane on a huge apron, why not. I'd certainly like to fly there one day.

That is the good thing about these forums, they make you think and possibly verify stuff I simply had taken as a given...

Best regards Urs

LSZH, Switzerland

I think summer is the worst time to go there

Sure, which is why we go May or September. Mid summer is generally quite nice in the UK - in the south east anyway, and if you have a nice place to live then there isn't the great urge to go abroad just to get away from home.

We also normally avoid the 18-30 Club type locations. Zakynthos was just an experiment to prove the contrary is not a good idea

Also I don't think Greece would ever attract a lot of GA tourism because it is very far away from the rest of Europe thus very expensive to even get to.

Sure too, but you could say that about all of European GA. For example there isn't much point in delivering a US-style instrument rating, because reasonable IFR currency costs money, which most GA pilots don't have. So the argument comes down to the degree to which this is true. One could certainly achieve an improvement, both on the Greek GA tourism and on private IFR in Europe, but it isn't ever going to be anything stunning like a 100x increase.

Let's face it, most European pilots have never even been taught how to plan a flight from Shoreham to Le Touquet (or the equivalent in your bit of Europe). Those that work it out (and it's obviously trivial) do it by learning from the internet, from others, or just by doing it.

I think Greece could attract a lot more GA visitors. Maybe not from the UK, which is a long way, but from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, etc.

That means Bari, who do but apparently not reliably so

Exactly, but that "apparently not reliably so" aspect is stunningly useless. Whereas in Greece if an airport has avgas, they do have it - unless they have just run out which I have never seen.

On Greece, the best places to visit are actually not much of an issue. If say you had to go to Kavala or Thessaloniki regularly, then you would have problems because there is no avgas in Northern Aegean. You have to go all the way down to Samos to get some. But Kavala and Thessaloniki are not the best places to see, and anyway there are cheap direct airline flights to both (from the UK anyway). My 2012 Greek trip (Samothraki, done via Alexandropolis) would have been quite complicated but we went via Samos which made it easy.

LGIR doesn't have avgas. The only avgas on Crete is Sitia LGST or Hania LGSA, but Hania (semi mil) is currently 5 days' PPR unless you are SX-reg and visiting on a weekend. But I've been to Hania (report from 2007) and it's a place you visit just once... (IMHO).

The problem I found with Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria or Serbia is that if you ask the airport straight about procedures, you get a huge long email back with details of required CAA permissions. I did this last year. I quite believe this is bollox and you can just turn up and land, but that's not what they say. Serbia does have cheap avgas though. In the end, I stop where it is nice to stop and stay overnight anyway, so Croatia wins every time as a tech stop.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

LGIR doesn't have avgas.

Actually it does, I burned 200l of their avgas in February 2013. They even have a nice fuel station with an underground tank whereas in Sitia they fuel from barrels. LGIR is a good airfield for GA, the airport itself charged me 1,67 € (which of course took 45 minutes and 3 carbon copies) and then Swissport ca. 32 € with AOPA discount. That's fair and Iraklion is a real town with infrastructure whereas Sitia is very remote.

Even though Iraklion airport is much bigger than Sitia, it is not better equipped. VOR approach is the best you can get and the runway lighting is very poor, not adequate for an airport that size. We did a drive & dive and were only able to see the runway at the threshold. Also taxing was a bit difficult even though we got nice instructions but apparently they laid off the person in charge of mowing the lawn -- all direction signs where covered by grass. No problem, everybody was friendly and helpful.

So I can recommend LGIR.

That's great news, but must be new.

LGIR definitely lost its avgas outlet for some years.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter I just confirmed with local PPL aircraft owner. They do still have AVGAS at LGIR since long time ago. He said that for a period it was discontinued and then resumed.

www.aopa.gr/info (para.22) still has it as available for LGIR and the (comment) will be removed because I just confirmed there is no more min. quantity requirement; that was a thing of the past. Also LGKO and ZZZZ Ikaros will be removed because they are not AVGAS refueling locations any more.

Always consult www.aopa.gr/info shortcut for latest information. The old link from the old AOPA website is outdated and they have updated it to reroute to the above just in case. AOPA tries to keep it updated as much as information is/gets available.

LGMG Megara, Greece

Achim,

Also I don't think Greece would ever attract a lot of GA tourism because it is very far away from the rest of Europe thus very expensive to even get to.

It will attract a sight more if some of the problems can be solved. Such as getting a VFR chart finally plus others.

With Urs' attitude end ends up staying at home...

I don't. I went to Croatia last year (hence my enthusiasm for it) and to Serbia and Bulgaria in 2011 (was planned last year too but no joy re weather).

What I do want is a stress free and plannable trip. I am on rare time off when I do travel and I do prepare rather extensively. I am very much for places which will work as advertized and which have a GA Friendly and professional attitude.

Likewise, I do not like to plan flights so that I ever get into a situation where I start running out of fuel and ideas at the same time. Maybe my planning is excessive, yet I believe that there are relatively few places in Europe where the situation is such as Kerkira re alternates. I also planned the Bulgarian flight like that and ended up doing ZRH-KFT-BEG because there is no suitable alternate to BEG reachable with the reserves I'd have by flying direct, then BEG-PDV-Primorsko (no fuel at Plovdiv but 3 hours left and 2 hours left at Primorsko with Burgas nearby.) On the return we were able to plan and fly Belgrade-Zürich in 4-30 flight time, because there are an abundance of alternates available on the route.

Thanks for the confirmation of Avgas at Iraklion. This indeed makes a change.

The problem I found with Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria or Serbia is that if you ask the airport straight about procedures, you get a huge long email back with details of required CAA permissions.

Peter, Bulgaria was extremely easy. I just wrote for a blanket permit for 2 weeks to the ministry of transport and got the answer within 5 minutes on a Saturday with my blanket permit number. You put that into the remarks field of your flight plan and are done. Last year I asked them if I could have a permit for the whole summer and they issues me a permit from June to October, unrestricted operations. If you tell them which airports you will visit, they will inform those airports with your data. Airports visited were Plovdiv and Primorsko, the latter of which I stayed 2 weeks at for €5 landing fee and €2.50 parking per night, Avgas € 2.50 a liter. Plovdiv was € 30 landing and 2 days parking. I can fully recommend going there, take Plovdiv or Gorna Oryachovitsa as customs airport (has Avgas too) and then use the good infrastructure of small airports such as Lesnovo (Sofia), Ihtiman, Primorsko and others. I am told to stay away from Burgas (crazy avgas prices and "funny" taxes) and Sofia (expensive but otherwise very good), so I use those as alternates but not as primaries.

Belgrade, you are supposed to call ahead, which I did not see and therefore did not do. Nobody mentioned anything. Private flights need no permit for Serbia, at least last year. The next year (Last year) I called ahead on the same day, basically before departure and they thanked me for telling them and they are looking forward to see us (which unfortunately did not happen as we had to turn back over the Alps due to weather). I called them to tell them we had to cancel following which I got a very kind mail back saying they were sorry to hear that and we'd be welcome the next time. Transit stop was €16 plus €1.50 per liter Avgas, if you stay it's €30 for the landing I was told. YOu need to mention "Technical stop" in the Flightplan in order to get the special tarif. The only problem there is alternates. Osijek is closed mostly over the weekend, so is Nis. We filed Sofia and Zagreb, both are about 1-20 hours away, have customs and avgas.

I found both Serbia and Bulgaria extremely easy to work with, both have their full AIP with charts online and respond very favorably to requests for info or other things.

Best regards Urs

Trip report to BG form 2011 in German

LSZH, Switzerland

While I've never flown in Greece so cannot comment directly, in principle I'm with Mooney Driver here - spend your money where you're welcome, not where you're treated like sh*t.

Over the years I had similar experiences in Morocco (the North - the South is a totally different and much more pleasurable story). Once flew over from Malaga to Tetuan for lunch. Only a/c on the field. The welcome? Two hours customs and immigration. Thank you, I'll take my money elsewhere! For the record - I've spent a good part of my working life in Third World countries and am quite used to, ahem, different ways. But one has to draw a line somewhere.

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