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Inside Athens' ghost airport

Last updated on: July 01, 2014 12:59 IST

Image: An Olympic Airways airplane stands on the premises of Hellenikon.
Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

For about six decades, Hellenikon was Athens' only airport but it closed down in 2001 to make way for a newer, more modern airport before the city hosted the 2004 Olympic Games. 

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Inside Athens' ghost airport

Image: An auxiliary control tower stands in front of the east terminal of Hellenikon.
Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

After languishing for years as a wasteland of crumbling terminals, Hellenikon is set for resurrection as a glitzy coastal resort.

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Inside Athens' ghost airport

Image: A limousine service stand is seen outside the east terminal of Hellenikon.
Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

Lamda Development, controlled by Greece's powerful Latsis family and leading a consortium of Chinese and Abu-Dhabi based companies, has big dreams for the area since signing a 915 million euro deal for a 99-year lease in March. 

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Inside Athens' ghost airport

Image: Olympic Airways airplanes stand on the premises of Hellenikon.
Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

But those days are long gone and the project faces criticism now from the main leftist opposition and locals, both of whom fear the luxury development could turn into a concrete jungle out of reach for ordinary Greeks. 

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Inside Athens' ghost airport

Image: Plants grow outside the east terminal of Hellenikon
Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

Efforts by successive governments in recent years to turn the 620-hectare (1,520 acre) plot into a profitable venture have all fallen through, including plans in 2011 to build a financial district similar to London's Canary Wharf with Qatari backing.

The Gulf state pulled out of the project last year. 

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Inside Athens' ghost airport

Image: A view of the east terminal of the former Athens International airport, Hellenikon.
Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

The Lamda group hopes to turn Hellenikon into a prime seaside resort with hotels, a kilometer-long beach, a marina and a park bigger than London's Hyde Park. 

...

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Inside Athens' ghost airport

Image: Olympic Airways logo is seen on a building at Hellenikon.
Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

For about six decades, Hellenikon was Athens's only airport. Built in 1938, it was used by the Luftwaffe during the wartime German occupation and later by the United States Air Force.

One of its terminals was designed by Eero Saarinen, one of the pioneers of the "neo-futurist" style of the 1960s. 

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Inside Athens' ghost airport

Image: An entrance to the arrivals area is seen at the east terminal.
Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

These days the airport appears frozen in time, its once-busy terminals now littered with old boarding passes, debris from a collapsed roof and garbage.

Announcement boards, somewhat eerily, still proclaim flights now long flown and forgotten. An old Boeing 747-200 sits rusting among stray dogs and overgrown weeds off the runway. 

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Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

A board is seen inside a deserted hall at the west terminal of Hellenikon.

...

Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

An auxiliary control tower is reflected in a mirror at a deserted cafe in the east terminal of Hellenikon.

...

Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

An announcement board is seen inside a deserted hall at the west terminal of Hellenikon.

...

Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

Olympic Airways travel tags are seen behind a desk inside the west terminal of Hellenikon.

...

Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

Boarding passes are seen inside a hall at the west terminal of Hellenikon.

...

Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

A view of a burnt building in the west terminal of Hellenikon.

...

Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

A burnt out arrivals hall is seen at the west terminal of Hellenikon.

...

Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

Documents are seen in an office at Hellenikon.

...

Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

A photograph of an Olympic Airways aircraft is seen inside a hall which was used as a museum for the carrier, at Hellenikon airport.

...

Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

Photographs of Hellenikon are seen inside a hall where a museum for Olympic Airways was set up.

...

Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

A hall is seen in the west terminal of Hellenikon.

...

Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

A corridor leading to a passenger gate is seen in the east terminal of Hellenikon.

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Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

A plane is seen through the window of an auxiliary control tower at Hellenikon.

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Please click here for the Complete Coverage of Budget 2014 -15

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters

Inside Athens' ghost airport


Photographs: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters
Source: REUTERS
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