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Safety issues in Greece’s 15 under-staffed regional airports, says ERT

Complaints and questions about flight safety in 15 regional airports of Greece have been often tabled in the past and came to limelight after the train collision.

Speaking to speaking to state broadcaster ERT on Wednesday, Giorgos Konstantinakis, president of the Panhellenic Association of Telecommunications (FISO) CAA, complained that there are flight safety problems due to under-staffing of the sector that provides a flight information service, similar to air traffic controllers, at the country’s 15 small regional airports.

Konstantinakis stressed that only one person serves in 10 of them and “even though the situation changes in summer, at most one more person can be added.

He underlined, among others, that while the airport of Syros “remains with one person in charge and if something happens to him, the airport closes”.

“Our complaints are more general about the under-staffing in our sector and not only for the small airports but also for the rest of the airports in which our we operate. Of course where it is most visible is at the 15 small, border airports where the flight information service is provided. It is a service comparable to air traffic control. The colleague is in a control tower and talks to the aircraft via frequency, giving him information about the meteorological situation in the area with the runway condition, the movements of aircraft in the area he controls, etc. Out of 15 small ones in which our sector operates, out of 10 is served by only one person, which this person is on call, if necessary, twenty-four hours a day to serve in addition to passenger flights and board flights” he explained the situation.

Normal opening hours are from 7.30am to 2.30pm, he said underline, however, that “the situation in summer, of course, change, but to the staff, at most one more person can be added.”

He stated that “Paros in the period June – September has 1,541 flights on average per month, Naxos 1,089, Karpathos 562, Milos 531, Syros 468. In this time period, Paros had two people for all these flights and from the middle of July onward another person was added and it became three. Naxos has two people and from August they became three, Karpathos three people, Milos one person and in some time they became two and Syros most of the time was with one person.”

He recalled that “on Syros, we also had cases of fainting from the colleague, who worked 24 hours a day.”

he pointed out that when something happens to the only person controlling the air traffic, “the airport closes.”

He revealed that “two years since we took over as an association as well as previous colleagues did, we have informed the relevant Ministry of Transport and our administration about the under-staffing, which is decreasing year by year due to retirement. At the moment we have 110 people left for 40 airports.”

He said, “five re-deployments from the wider public sector have been announced since August [2022] and they are still not over. There are 16 more in the ministry’s drawer that have not been touched at all.”

“The education required for this position is technological or university studies and a very good knowledge of English.” (source: ERT)

PS He did not mention the training time for such a crucial position, though, as also the responsible station master in Larissa was moved to this position following ‘re-deployment’ and a short training that was clearly not enough..

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