Airports

Ownership

Who owns the airports?

All airports in Greece are owned and operated by the state, with the exception of Athens International Airport. Said airport is operated by Athens International SA, which has the exclusive right and obligation to conduct the financing, construction, completion, operation, development and management of the airport, and the Greek state retains control of, and supervision over, these activities.

Moreover, pursuant to Law 3913/2011 and by virtue of a decision of the competent Intra-Ministerial Committee of Restructuring and Privatisation, relevant SA companies may be established for the administration and operation of all or certain Greek regional airports.

Licensing

What system is there for the licensing of airports?

Ministerial Decision D3/A/20357/2002 approves the Basic Regulation for Airport Licensing, Functioning and Operating. Its purpose is to establish the criteria and procedures under which the HCAA certifies Greek airports serving international flights. Regardless of their ownership, operation and supervision regime, the HCAA must certify that they provide the necessary level of safety, regularity and efficiency.

An airport certificate is required for all Greek airports serving flights to and from abroad. The airport licence applicant must submit a form to the HCAA enclosing the airport manual. Before the certificate is issued, the HCAA controls and ensures that the airport meets, inter alia, the following conditions: the applicant and staff have the necessary competence and experience to properly operate and maintain the airport and an acceptable safety management system is in place.

The airport certificate licensing regime obliges the airport operator to ensure safe, regular and efficient operation of the airport and to allow access of the authorised personnel of the CAA to the airport to conduct security audits, inspections and tests.

The airport certification process includes the following:

  • preparation and expression of interest from the applicant for the certificate;
  • submission of the official application including the airport manual;
  • provision of the necessary facilities, equipment, service and airport operating procedures;
  • the act itself of issuance or denial of the airport certificate; and
  • notification of the certified status of the airport and the publication of related details in the Greek Aeronautical Information Manual.
Economic regulation

Is there a system of economic regulation of airports? How does it function?

Chapter I of Ministerial Decision D3/A/20357/2002, which approves the Basic Regulation for Airport Licensing, Functioning and Operating, and article 189 of the Air Law Code provide that the operator may establish charges for all airport users. The basic principles for the determination of airport charges are the following:

  • the maintenance of a high level of services to support the airport’s economic efficiency and competitiveness;
  • the existence of incentives for the efficient and economically effective use of the existing infrastructure;
  • the prevention of abuse of dominant position;
  • the assurance of necessary funding to meet future demand;
  • the achievement of local and regional economic development objectives; and
  • the assurance of transparency and direct presentation of all necessary financial assets.
Access

Are there laws or rules restricting or qualifying access to airports?

Regulation (EC) No. 1008/2008 and HCAA Regulation D1/D30817/2180 provide a general right of air carriers with an operating licence to provide air transport services on domestic routes and on routes in the EU. There are also restrictions to the free access in the market of air transport services, when the state imposes public service obligations on scheduled airlines that serve regional yet vital areas to strengthen economic development. Thus, it is possible to limit access to route to an exclusive carrier, selected by a public tender. Moreover, the state can limit access through the allocation of slots to reduce air traffic congestion and delay.

Slot allocation

How are slots allocated at congested airports?

The allocation of slots in Greece is regulated by Regulation (EC) No. 545/2009, which defines slot capacity available for allocation, the process of allocation and monitoring of the correct use of slots. ‘Slot’ shall mean the permission given by a coordinator to use the full range of airport infrastructure necessary to operate an air service at a coordinated airport on a specific date and time for the purpose of landing or take-off as allocated by a coordinator. Also slot allocation should be considered as giving air carriers permission to access the airport facilities for landing and taking-off at specific dates and times for the duration of the period for which the permission is granted. The sole person responsible for the allocation of slots shall be the coordinator. He or she shall allocate the slots in accordance with the provisions of the above-mentioned Regulation and shall make provision so that, in an emergency, slots can also be allocated outside office hours.

In Greece, Law 3534/2007 provides for the establishment of the Authority of the Coordination of Flights for the Allocation of Slots at Greek airports. In a situation where all slot requests cannot be accommodated to the satisfaction of the air carriers concerned, preference shall be given to commercial air services and in particular to scheduled services and programmed non-scheduled air services. In the case of competing requests within the same category of services, priority shall be given for year-round operations. Finally, slots may be:

  • transferred by an air carrier from one route or type of service to another route or type of service operated by that same air carrier:
    • between parent and subsidiary companies and between subsidiaries of the same parent company, as part of the acquisition of control over the capital of an air carrier; or
    • in the case of a total or partial takeover when the slots are directly related to the air carrier taken over; or
  • exchanged, one by one, between air carriers.
Ground handling

Are there any laws or rules specifically relating to ground handling. What are they?

Ground handling is typically regulated by Presidential Decree 285/1998, Law 3913/2011 (articles 23 and 24) and the Basic Regulation of Land Service of the Ministry of Transportations and Communications (D3/B/16067/3831, Government Gazette B’ 1138/2011). Due to the provisions of this Regulation, the ground service agents have the right to freely access the market services of the ground service in all the Greek airports that are open to trade traffic, if they are located in the EU. Some cases render it impossible to open a market in ground services, when specific constraints with regard to the available space or the capacity exist in the airport. In these cases, the ground service agents are selected through a competition process and only if they fulfil specific criteria. After selection, they are obliged to comply with the safety and security rules, which are provided in the above-mentioned regulation.

The use of particular ground service agents at Greek airports depends on the approval provided by the decision of the Minister of Transportation and Communications in response to requests by the relevant aeronautical authority that precede the commencement of the activities in question.

The activities of the ground service agents are divided into the following categories:

  • baggage handling;
  • ramp handling;
  • fuel and oil handling; and
  • freight and mail handling.
Air traffic control

Who provides air traffic control services? And how are they regulated?

In Greece, air traffic control services are provided by the General Air Navigation’s Department, according to the provisions of Law 3913/2011.

Air traffic control services are particularly provided as follows:

  • to all flights flown according to instrument flight rules in a restricted aerial space (air corridors, terminals, etc);
  • to all flights flown in the control zone of the airport when the necessary visual conditions are unavailable (special visual flight rules flights); and
  • in the whole airport’s traffic zone in the controlled aerodromes of the country.