Spectacle on the beach: when the holiday flyers land on the island of Skiathos

Greece was one of the few holiday destinations in the Mediterranean for which there was no travel warning in summer 2020. Whether Crete, Rhodes or Samos, the most convenient way to get to the island’s destinations is by plane. So also to Skiathos, an island in the Aegean Sea that belongs to the Northern Sporades.

The island, which is just under 50 square kilometers in size, is notorious for its airport: the runway is only 1628 meters long. The narrow concrete strip is bordered at both ends by the sea. For comparison: The main slope from Heraklion on Crete is 2714 meters long.

In 2014, the German Fraport took over the operation of the small airport along with several other Greek airports and started modernization. But the slopes have only been extended by 110 meters since then. Nevertheless, aircraft up to the size of a stately Boeing 757-200 land here with space for up to 233 passengers.

Instead of 446,000 only 89,000 take-offs and landings

The aviation photographer Dietmar Plath used his camera to document the events at the airport, which is officially called Airport Alexandros Papadiamantis – after the writer who was born in Skiathos in 1851.

Plath not only photographed the aircraft approaching from different perspectives on the ground, but also sat in the cockpit when a Sky Express propeller plane was approaching land.

“In the meantime, the volume of traffic has flattened noticeably due to the rampant Covid 19 pandemic,” says Plath. In 2019 the airport recorded 446,000 flight movements, last year it was just under 89,000.

Nevertheless, there are still impressive approaching scenes for vacationers and plane spotters. This makes Skiathos Airport as spectacular among airplane enthusiasts in the Mediterranean as the Princess Juliana International Airport on the island of Sint Maarten in the Caribbean, where the jets land on the beach with their landing gear unfolded just a few meters above the heads of the people.

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