The first cooperation for island hopping by air, aiming to put Greek destinations on the map of air travel, has begun operating out of the regional airports of Astypalea, Kastellorizo, and Milos. A special inter-ministerial working group, created by Greece’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport and the Ministry of Tourism, has been put to work with the aim of planning and implementing future endeavors. A first action, which took place on Saturday, July 23, involved two private aircraft, which took off for the islands of Astypalea and Milos – marking the start of operation of these regional airports for private, and not just commercial flights.
The initiative has been brewing, jointly within the ministries, since 2021, and is being planned and implemented in cooperation with the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority, the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (A.O.P.A. Hellas), the Hellenic Pilots Association as well as the municipalities of the islands.
The strategic advantage of this cooperation is based on creating a stronger connection between the three islands as destinations, the means for which, until today, were insufficient, and could not be covered by commercial flights due to specifications of the airports.
The initial plan for the program foresees that the private flights at these three airports will take place from sunrise to sunset, but only outside of the airport’s operating hours with commercial flights.
Deputy Minister of Tourism Sofia Zacharaki said about the initiative: “We are continuously working to support alternative forms of tourism, developing the appropriate synergies and implementing the necessary initiatives, in order for our islands to become a attractive destinations for incoming air tourism – with the possibility of air visits (island hopping) – all year round.”
Secretary General of Transport in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, added: “The continuous improvement of the air transport sector, through our targeted actions, creates the possibility to increase the transport work with quality and safety. The Greek airports have already increased their work, absorbing the pressure caused by the delays and cancellations of flights to European destinations. Meanwhile, with this specific action, we can not only increase the number of visitors to our country through private flights, but also create a new field for the tourist market. These three airports constitute the first pilot application of the action, which will eventually be applied to all Greek regional airports».