Many cities have moved their airports out of inner city locations

Athens is only the latest

Athens has become the latest city to replace its inner city airport with a new airport outside the suburban area. The old Helleniko airport is being redeveloped for non airport uses following the opening of the new Eleftherios Venizelou Airport.

Athens new airport is at Spata, 30 kilometres east of the city. A frequent bus service takes airport passengers along a motorway to the city centre. Heleniko was only 8 km from the city centre and within the affluent south eastern suburbs. 

The metro to the airport opened in September, 2009 and costs about 8 euro.  Trains are every 30 minutes between downtown and the airport from 06:00 and 23:00.

The new airport was commenced before Greece bid for the Olympic Games and would have been built even if Athens had not won the right to host the 2004 Olympics.

Oslo shows the way

In October 1998, Oslo Airport, which was located at Fornebu just 15 minutes drive from Oslo’s City Hall, was moved to Gardermoen some 50kms northeast of Oslo. The airport at Fornebu was only 340 hectares in area, lacked the required number of slots and could not accommodate wide-bodied aircraft. To add to this the airport was considered unsafe by the International Federation of Airline Pilots.

Fornebu Airport was never considered compatible with the heavily residential area surrounding it. Whereas more than 70,000 people had been previously affected by aircraft noise and pollution, the move reduced this number to around 3,000 people.

Another long debate

In spite of Fornebu’s shortcomings, the debate on where to build a replacement airport went on for decades. During this time Fornebu Airport underwent repeated improvements, largely because politicians could not agree on a site for a new airport, and because Fornebu was popular due to its convenient location from the centre of the Oslo. Does this sound familiar?

The old Fornebu Airport site is designated to become a residential and commercial area incorporating recreation projects. Fornebu, a peninsula, is an area of great natural wealth. It has a mild climate with an abundant variety of flora and fauna. The closure of the airport has made an already attractive place even more so.

Gardermoen is a planned airport and hence is in a far better position to accommodate the future needs of the airline industry. High-speed trains ensure transportation of people to and from the centre of Oslo in 20 minutes.

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