easyJet (U2, London Luton) has suspended its flights to Thessaloniki Makedonia Airport, Greece, after the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA) closed the airfield’s main runway, 10/28, for upgrade works.
In a statement, the UK-headquartered budget carrier said it would re-route its flights through Athens Int’l until December 6, and through Kavala, located 150 kilometres away, from December 7 through to 21.
easyJet said that although the HCAA had designated the airfield’s main taxiway Foxtrot an active runway (effectively “10L/28R”) for the duration of the works, it did not find the solution acceptable adding that it posed risks.
Fraport, the facility’s management firm, has since said it had warned the Greek government of the impact easyJet’s withdrawal would have, both in terms of reputation as well as in decreased passenger throughput.
For its part, the HCAA said it had conducted numerous tests over the past month and had determined that the use of a taxiway, located immediately adjacent to the terminal, posed no threat to operational safety.
“Trial flights to Macedonia airport in Thessaloniki took place on Wednesday, November 22, 2017, headed by the Governor of the Hellenic Police Force, Mr. Konstantinos Linzerakos,” it said. “The final tests were carried out with Aegean Airlines (A3, Athens Int’l) A320 aircraft in order to confirm that 10L-28R [taxiway Foxtrot], could act as the main take-off and landing runway. The necessary preparations to allow for its use as a runway was made some weeks before. Following the success of the tests, the green light was given to use the taxiway for flights, until the two-way intersection of the two runways is completed during the first ten days of March 2018.”
The HCAA has already issued the relevant NOTAMs informing all pilots of new operational restrictions in place at the airfield. According to ch-aviation’s analysis of the airport’s flight status website, easyJet is the only carrier that has so far decided to move its operations elsewhere with Olympic Air (OA, Athens Int’l), Ryanair (FR, Dublin Int’l), Aegean Airlines (A3, Athens Int’l), Ellinair (EL, Thessaloniki) and Astra Airlines (A2, Thessaloniki) all continuing normal operations for example.