boscomantico In that case I recommend the following in rank of what you are looking for.
Paros LGPA http://hellasga.com/gallery/kyp/lgpa Same as Naxos but more lively in the two main towns. Naousa which is the nice city of it is a few miles north of the airport. Don't go for Paros port/city. Very nice and calm is Antiparos islet to its west, a 10 minute boatride. I suggest Paros as (airport) destination and Antiparos for staying over.
Naxos LGNX City close to airport, calm island, very nice sandy beaches with rental accommodation almost on the shore and close to (southwest of) the airport. http://hellasga.com/gallery/kyp/lgnx See 3rd pic. of above album.
I do not recommend you more because all the rest have greater distances between airport-village-beaches.
What I know is that they do indeed get picky on the Schengen (airport of entry) issue. The guy at the calm remote airport may be an officer of law to "enforce" it but will for sure raise some alarm bells to get the responsibility of his back and then you don't know how it may escalate.
BTW keep in mind Skiathos does not have AVGAS. Any of the above also do not. You options for AVGAS if flying off later will be either Megara LGMG GA airfield in Athens (not airport of entry) or Kerkira LGKR for both exit and fuel. So Kerkira makes sense to combine both.
Skiathos and Kerkira, especially the latter are PNR and handling mandatory.
I meant "may NOT be an officer of law"
What happened to the LGKC "different information" i.e. they respected Schengen? I have it in writing (as you know ).
No idea, I have not asked them about it. What I report is on what Greece AIP states. If somebody wants to enter / exit from there again I'd be interested to know if they accept it. If that happens maybe then Kithira LGKC is not listed as an airport of entry but has some sort of allowance to operate as one. Maybe they use some sort of waiver from the past because I remember it used to bring in people with a Regional airline from Europe.
Usually it does not turn up as an issue for GA because most inbounds stop to Kerkyra to combine refueling and entry and then continue. They use the full tanks from Kerkyra for the Greek island hoping to places without AVGAS and then refuel on their way out via Kerkira again. So usually its not a range issue to get to Greece but an issue about having full tanks while island hopping until they leave again.
The practical issue is that Greece disregards Schengen even though they have signed the treaty.
If they operated Schengen, one could fly freely to/from any Greek airport, to most of Europe. And for non-Schengen destinations, one could file a departure intended for Croatia for say LJLJ in Slovenia, and then once out of Greek airspace one would divert enroute to Croatia - or other versions of that.
What I have seen is a variation in the number of hours in "PNR Customs" according to whether you are departing to EU or non EU. That can be usefully solved by filing "EU" and then diverting. I don't suppose one could do this repeatedly but it is a very old trick in the bizjet business. It should be "safe" because you have departed from a Customs airport so nobody down the route can possibly know you didn't give sufficient PNR.
Sorry for a naive question about the Greek island airports: taking my canisters with me and bringing mogas from a petrol station to refuel, is it doable or a no-no?
Thanks again for all contributions.
However, even with lots of goodwill, I have come to the conclusion that, due to the combination of:
-most airports not having Avgas
-many airports being "national" only, and
-several airports requiring prior clearance (not just a simple PPR like Skiathos)
really make flying in Greece rather restrictive, to the point of being "not much fun". A shame.
Now in Skiathos and will probably just stay for a few days before heading back to Europe. The advantage of Skiathos is that it is sufficiently close to, say, Dubrovnik or Nis (for decent priced Avgas).
It would require very little to make flying in Greece a lot more enjoyable: two or three more airports selling Avgas, normal Schengen procedures plus doing away with prior clearances/PPR nonsense for certain airports. Sounds so easy, but we're talking Greece after all...
It comes down to having a long range aircraft. Then you can fly almost anywhere where there is a runway, subject to opening hours, and making a phone call before the flight.
A TB20 can depart halfway down Croatia and easily reach anywhere in Greece including Crete. You have avgas at Sitia (Crete) and Samos and that covers flying all over Greece. Or you can enter Greece at Corfu and fly to any point in Greece and back to Corfu without refuelling.
With say a PA28 (say 600nm zero fuel range) you have to fly to Corfu (from Croatia, Italy, etc) and then fly to Megara (avgas, no Customs) and then you can fly all over Greece, taking care to refuel at Samos or Sitia if going over that way.
Corfu is strictly PPR and you must get that in writing (fax or email) because they have been known to refuse a landing clearance.
The other strictly-PPR airport I know of is Hania (Crete) but that is 5 or 20 days' PPR (depending on who you ask) and is semi military, with H24 F16 ops. The others can be sorted with a phone call, which is what I would do in the UK anyway.
One great thing about Greece is that they speak pretty good English, whereas in e.g. Spain or Italy there is a pretty good chance of the phone getting put back down if you phone them, and a similar chance of getting a reply to a fax or email. This makes checking Greek airports out much easier. I've never had any real issues there.
Many things could be improved in Greece. Avgas and opening hours are the two biggest ones. All the holiday charter islands have Customs already. In the 10 years I know about, two airports have lost avgas (Thessaloniki and Mykonos). The opening hours are set up around passenger flights which is why e.g. Kithira opens mostly just 2hrs/day - 1hr either side of the daily flight from Athens.
Greece has deeper problems, like a tiny island airport, open 2hrs/day, employing several CAA officials on ~ €60k/year each... solving that is going to be much harder than setting up an avgas pump and getting the policeman (already present) to look at your passport.
Sounds so easy, but we're talking Greece after all...
boscomantico I cannot disagree on that but - in danger of hijacking the thread ! - allow me some comments since I have lived the system from within being based, owning and flying a GA aircraft in Greece. Still I always try to understand the problems by looking at them with an eye of a foreigner coming from abroad.
All I can tell you is that it is not as hard as you may think. It sounds so because you do not reside in Greece but it is not. Big (and or) busy (and or) popular airports are the ones that involve prior arrangements. The HANDLER takes care of that. You just ask them what you want and don't deal with airport authorities. They communicate via email and let you know. The reason for non spare GA capacity at peak periods is because the (air and ground) infrastructure is brought to capacity by airline traffic. From a state's viewpoint these are the profit makers and not you or me with our light airplane. So we are the ones occupying the leftovers. There is space for us too but in peak periods not always the time and day we need it. I hope you catch my drift.
Indeed it would be ideal to have AVGAS in 3~4 key locations. The problem is that demand is low and fuel companies are reluctant in investing on the costs involved. Also don't forget that for islands the costs are different from mainland airports. AVGAS has to be transported in special brokered ships for "hazardous/flammable" goods and this brings up the cost and logistics problems. Add to that a low demand and there you have it.
This is a story that goes back ages. Our airports were not available like many in mainland Europe that were leftovers of WWII infrastructure which then continued to have a Civil life. Each airport has been purpose built by the state between the 30's and 70's as state infrastructure to serve remote locations and popular travel destinations. This is where the ownership thing comes from. To see private (not ex public later privatized) airports around you need to have demand for a private investor to make profit from profit margins in airport business. No one will donate aviation infrastructure out of goodwill ! Now (or better say "soon"), with decades' delay, core infrastructure airports are about to get privatized. I bet you, few years down the line we will be in this forum moaning about high airport charges in Greece from X private run airport who used to (now 2013) charge 1,63 Euro per day - 7,34 for non Eur. reg. (invoice valid for all Greek airports in same H24) and at that time will be charging 10 or more times up the price.
Yes the operation hours for some of the airports, especially the small and remote ones, are not GA minded. They usually operate when airline comes +/- few hours. This is a budget thing. Personnel there are paid by the state and in a country with low GA activity, picking up in summer from the few daring (boscomantico not included LOL!) pilots having them more hours staying open for a occasional GA visitor ... won't happen. There have been many discussions about scenarios of off operation hours unmanned airports operated in pilots responsibility and having only a police officer for security or access control but in all these you face the state's bureaucratic wall and fear of liabilities in "what if" scenarios.
Smuggling, Illegal Trafficking, Accidents (air / ground) are things the state does want the liability for in a "closed" airport. Also there are many different parts of state personnel (supposedly) needed to have an airport functioning that simply getting their ministries/unions/representatives/whatever to find a viable solution is impossible. To give you an example (I am sure we all know but anyway) of personnel involved:
ATC or AFIS R/T operators
Telecommunications (NOTAMS etc.)
ALL of them have their labor unions who always have something to DEMAND or OBJECT TO in any change proposal. The most DETRIMENTAL effect is that the unions of these employees want always to prove they are NECESSARY and without them an airport cannot operate. As you understand if they were to be proven unneeded lots of people would maybe loose their secured jobs.
A) international waters and
B) in immediate vicinity of other states off Schengen and European union.
It is not worth going in to details in this post but I just want to mention, for what its worth, that the reason the state is very resistant in relaxing control ethos over airports is the complex issue about the islands (and their airports as gateways in our case).
It is one country, one FIR (for ATC and SAR responsibility) but delicate borders per international law lie underneath.
A runaway - engaging in illegal activity - car or boat you can control/chase/intercept more easily than an aircraft. That is the whole story behind it.
[edited for text formatting; to force a line break, use 2 spaces at the end of the line]