Greece’s authorities have prepared an pioneering travel option, the “island hopping” charter flights, a pilot program that introduces charter tourism within the country and initially for three Greek islands, Astypalaia, Kastellorizo and Milos.
The goal of the project is to provide the islands with additional connectivity with destinations not covered by commercial flights due to airport specifications.
The charter tourism concerns package trips that include pre-arranged services such as transport, accommodation, events and meals as well as other activities.
The pilot project allows private-run flights to take-off and land at island airports from beyond the airport’s operating hours for commercial flights.
The program started with the first air visits of this kind over the weekend.
On Saturday, July 23, two private aircraft took off with the final destinations of Astypalaia and Milos in a pilot program for Greece’s regional airports outside of their operating hours for commercial flights.
Municipal authorities on Milos welcome the arrival of the private charter flight on Saturday, July 23. source: Municipality of Milos
The “island hopping” charter tourism initiative was jointly undertaken in 2021 by the ministries of Infrastructure and Transport and Tourism, the Civil Aviation Authority, as well as the municipalities of Astypalaia, Kastellorizo and Milos, with the cooperation of the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA Hellas) and the Hellenic Pilots Association.
A strategic advantage of this cooperation is the expansion of the connection of these three islands with destinations and means that could not be supported until today by airlines’ commercial flights due to the limited specifications of their airports.
The pilot program foresees that flights to these three airports will be carried out from sunrise to sunset and only outside the airport’s operating hours for commercial flights, with flight safety requirements satisfied.
To promote air tourism in Greece the two ministries have now set up a special inter-ministerial working group to plan and implement further joint actions.
“Actions are being taken to strengthen special forms of tourism, developing the appropriate synergies and implementing the necessary initiatives in order for our islands to become key points of attraction for incoming air tourism with the possibility of air visits (island hopping) – 12 months a year,” said Deputy Tourism minister Sofia Zacharaki.
“These three airports are the first pilot of the action, whose development will eventually apply to all Greek regional airports,” added the Infrastructure and Transport Ministry’s General Secretary of Transport Giannis Xifaras.
What type of plane is being used? Is it an Aegean/SkyExpress turboprop or something else?