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Greek Islands Travel

Skiathos runway a scary sight

Skiathos holiday runway a scary sight.

Flying into the Greek holiday island of Skiathos may herald the start of your Greek island holiday is definitely not for the faint of heart. Pilots bank around to hit Skiathos island runway from the south and passengers on the right side of the aeroplane can catch a brief glimpse the runway.

Skiathos is one of the most popular destinations for Greek island holidays and thousands fly in each year.

The Skiathos airport runway is laid across a very narrow neck of land between two heavily wooded hills. There is nothing at either end of the short runway but the deep blue of the Mediterranean sea.

Aeroplanes glide in across Skiathos Town bay and passengers sitting left-side will see holidaymakers sitting in the tavernas and cafes that line the shore.

Passengers are warned to expect plenty of noise when the wheels hit the concrete and, as aircraft touches down, the engines are thrown screaming into reverse.

This is because the runway is only just long enough to take fully loaded charter planes and the pilots don't have long to stop. The alternative is to overshoot and drop off the end of the runway and into the sea.

No need to worry though. Skiathos airport, although tiny, has an unblemished record. As does the holiday island of Skiathos itself, which is now one of the most popular holiday destinations in the Greek islands.

Nevertheless the arrival can be unnerving, especially if you are not fond of flying. Unfortunately it is even worse when you leave. Fully fuelled aeroplanes are too heavy to take off on the short runway so they must leave with fuel tanks virtually empty.

Pilots line up at the end of the runway and rev up until the engines can stand no more before releasing the brakes and shooting off like rockets. The near empty tanks require that they land a few minutes later at Thessaloniki on the mainland to take on enough fuel to fly home.

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  • Mark Creedy

    I have to disagree with the last commment. My wife and I have just returned from Skiathos on a Boeing 757 and it did not have to land to refuel.

  • Jon Grant

    Can confirm the rivet-straining, powering up/brakes on take-off technique which I personally found rather exhilarating!

    We did call at Volos en route to pick up more passengers, where the plane was also re-fuelled, but whether the latter was necessary I can't say.

    (Some might like to note that the Monarch flight last Friday (Oct 4th) was virtually the last tourist flight out of the season — our Cosmos reps were on the same plane home having turned the lights out on Skiathos!)

  • Ian Barsby

    Mark Creedy, yes me too. The Boeing 757-200 is the largest charter jet to operate out of Skiathos and its powerful Rolls-Royce RB211 engines allow a fully fuelled aircraft to accelerate to take-off speed and rotate well before the end of the runway. The 757-200 holds the record for the longest non-stop flight from Skiathos to Newcastle UK. All other jets such as the 737 or Airbus A320 take off virtually empty and then have to make a stop at Thessaloniki to take on enough fuel to continue the trip back to the UK.

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