Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH/LGAV) is the busiest airport in Greece. Operations began in March 2001, when it replaced Athens (Ellinikon) International Airport. In 2017, close to 22 million passengers passed through the airport. The airport is the hub and main base for Aegean Airlines and a few other Greek airlines, such as Olympic Air and Sky Express. It is also frequently being visited by domestic carriers ASTRA Airlines and Ellinair.
Currently, the most exotic international visitor is Scoot (Nov-Mar 2x/week, Apr-Oct 3-5x/week), but it also sees traffic from North America (Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Canada Rouge) and the Middle East (Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates). ATH is also a major cargo hub: Star Air, Cargo Air, Bluebird Nordic and ASL Airlines have several flights a week. Occasionally military movements can be observed, but keep a low profile when spotting those as this could raise some unwanted attention by security and law enforcement. Otherwise, plane spotting is generally tolerated by the authorities. As always, when being approached by police or security, stay calm and be cooperative.
Written by Jim Roos, Stathis Panagiotopoulos, Sebastian Sowa and Thomas Okaty. Last Update April 2019
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|3,800 m (12,467 ft)||4,000 m (13,123 ft)|
|Terminals||Main Terminal – all mainline Schengen and Non-Schengen flights||Satellite Terminal – used by low-cost and charter carriers|
|Spotting Information||Ladder||Not required.|
|Car||Not required for the first two spots but for all other its necessary. Spot 5 is in walking distance to the metro station.|
|Restrooms||Inside the main terminal.|
|Drinks/Food||Inside the main terminal. Nothing around.|
|Hotels||The Sofitel Athens Airport Hotel, which is the only hotel right at the airport, is located across from the entrance to the main terminal between the short-term parking lots P1 and P2. The rooms om the top floor provide a good view on runway 03L/21R, however, as the runway is quite far away, taking photos is difficult. From the hotel it is only a short walk to spotting locations #1 and #2.|
|Season||Good all year, but it can get very hot during the summer, so very likely you will be dealing with heat haze then.|
|Runway Usage||General Info||+++In June all arrivals in the morning are on 03R and all take offs on 03L because of school exams and the airport is following the noise reduction procedures.+++|
|03L/21R||03L Ops: 07:00-15:00/18:00-23.00 for arrivals and 15:00-18.00/23:00-07:00 for departures|
21R Ops: used landings only. Rarely for takeoff if the RW 21L is out of service due to works
|03R/21L||03R Ops: 15:00-18.00/23:00-07:00 for arrivals and 07:00-15:00/18:00-23.00 for departures|
21L Ops: used mainly for takeoffs except ElAl arrivals
Due to “security concerns” the greek government told google to pixelize the satellite images of all airports in greece with military movements. That is why you don´t see all positions as clear as usual. A good alternative is Microsofts Bing Maps where the airports in Greece are still visible…
|Spot #1 – McDonald’s Main Terminal Departure Level – Movements Rwy 03R/21L and Taxiways C & D|
|WHERE||This spot is located airside at the McDonald’s restaurant on the departure level of the main terminal.|
|WHAT||Movements on runway 03R/21L as well as taxiways C & D.|
|TIME||From around early afternoon until sunset.|
|MISC.||All windows have tinted glass and the place usually is very crowded. In the summer, heat haze can be an issue.|
(140mm for 767-300 on taxiway)
|Spot #2 – Metro & Train Station – Movements Rwy 03L/21R and Taxiways A & B|
|WHERE||From the main terminal walk to the Metro & Train station. You can also follow the Long Term Parking signs. At the end of the building there is an exit, that´s spot #2.|
|WHAT||Movements on runway 03L/21R and taxiways A & B, but best for arrivals on 21R.|
Smaller aircraft landing on 03L might vacate the runway before a decent shot is possible.
Smaller aircraft departing from 03L will be already fairly high in climb.It is quite difficult to get a clean shot regardless the runway configuration as dozens of lamp post from the parking lot in front of you disturbing your view.
|TIME||From sunrise until early afternoon.|
|MISC.||Everything you need within the terminal (10 minutes walk). In the summer, heat haze can be an issue.|
When a Greece military aircraft is landing there can be additional security staff present.
(500mm for Cyprus A319 landing on 21R)
|Spot #3 – Europcar Rental Car Station – Arrivals Rwy 03L|
|WHERE||This spot is located next to the Europcar rental car station. From the main terminal follow Attiki Odos/A62 to Kropia, then take exit K1 and follow the signs to Europcar. It takes approx. 6 minutes for the drive. Alternatively you can also take the shuttle bus. Parking is not possible at the Rental Station but 150m farther there is a small farm road where you can park. For taking pictures find a place along the road and spot from one of the fields. An alternative position is spot #4.|
|WHAT||All arrivals on runway 03L.|
|TIME||From 08:00 local time till 13:00 local time in winter and till 12:00 local time at summer after there is a lot of heat haze.|
|MISC.||Bring everything what you need, especially water as it can get very hot in the summer.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Cobalt A319 200mm ;China Airlines A330 120mm ; Olympic Air ATR42 300mm|
|Spot #4 – Bridge – 03L landing/departures|
|WHERE||Its on a bridge over the access road to the airport. From Attika Avenue with direction to Airport, take the exit K1 (Local Roads) and at the intersection turn left. At 50-60m you stop at right on the bridge and start spotting.The point is over Atica Avenue|
|WHAT||From here you can take photos from aircraft in the holding point A1,A2 and taxiways Alpha,Bravo.In additional you can take photos from Aircrafts in short final for landing on 03L RW.|
|TIME||From early morning to noon about 14:00 the winter and about 13:00 the summer|
|MISC.||Bring everything what you need, especially water as it can get very hot in the summer. Bushes and trees might disturb the sight.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Boeing 777 Emirates 135mm; Antonov 180mm; Dassault Falcon 900B 300mm|
|Spot #5 – Animal Sanctuary – 03L arrivals|
|WHERE||Coming from Athens to the airport, take exit K1 (local roads) and at the junction turn left. Pass spotting point 4 and drive for about 1.2km until you see an animal sanctuary to your right (A). There are some possibilities to park on the side of the road where you can stay.|
To get to the alternative position (B) where you have a better angle pass the animal sanctuary and take the next possibility to the right. Enter the dirty road and follow it until the next junction. That’s your place to be, park your car at the side of the road and position yourself on the small hill at the junction.The nearest suburban station is the Koropi station 1km from the point and you have to walk up there.
|WHAT||Aircraft in short final for landing on 03L.|
|TIME||From 18:00 till sunset. The runway is in use for landings from 18:00 every day after a break between 15:00-18:00.|
|MISC.||Bring everything what you need, especially water as it can get very hot in the summer. Bushes and trees might disturb the sight. Take care of the cultivations and respect the farmers property.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||150mm to 250mm|
Croatia Airlines 200mm; Gulf Air 180mm; Alitalia 210mm
Pictures from A
Pictures from B
|Spot #6 – Field – 03R arrivals|
|WHERE||Its in the middle of nowhere between some fields. From Atica Avenue with direction to Airport you get the exit K1 “local roads” (same as the spots before) but at the junction you turn right and about 160 meters later turn left and enter the gravel road. Stay on this road for about 500 meters and at the fork stay right and in 400m turn right and after another 250m you stop your car on the top of the hill.|
|WHAT||From this spot you can take photos aircraft in short final for landing on 03R,|
|TIME||From 15:00 time till sunset.|
|MISC.||Bring what you need, there is nothing in the area. It is not served by public transport. As in all points around the airport show respect to farmers’ crops|
|FOCAL LENGTH||160mm -400mm|
|Spot #7 – Ekklisia Panagia Curch – 03R arrivals|
|WHERE||Next to a place of prayer called Ekklisia Panagia. There are two alternative routes to reach this point. The first route is as follows: From Attiki Odos direction to the airport you get out K1 “Local Roads” (same as the spots before) and at the intersection turn right. After the tarmak end you enter into a gravel road. After 400m turn right and after 350m left you enter a gravel road very bumpy (reminds Special stage of the Acropolis Rally with stones on the road. If you have car with small height from the road avoid it). Follow the road and after 700m you are at the small church.|
The second route is from the city of Markopoulo. From there the distance It is about 5 km but all on asphalt.
If you don´t like the angle you can try to follow the road northwards and stay somewhere along it to get more distance to the arriving aircraft.
|WHAT||All the mornings arivals on 03R and all the ELAL arivals. Normally at the mornings all the landings go to 03L but sometimes aircraft go to the right runway.ELAL goes only at the 03R Runway.|
|TIME||The best time is about sunrise till 11:00. Before 08:00 there is not much light and after 11:00 the aircraft will be backlit|
|MISC.||There is not nothing.Bring water food etc|
ELAL 787 110mm; ELAL 747 105mm
|Spot #8 – Olive Tree Hill 03R/21L departures|
|WHERE||At the junction before point 7 you stay right on the road and continue for about 2 km on the asphalt road. When the asphalt road turn right keep straight and enter a hard dirt road for about 1.5 km. When you are almost in the middle of the ruwnay leave the car off road and climb up a hill with olive trees.|
|WHAT||Best forf 21L take-offs and suboptimal for 03R take-offs. There is a large hill left from your postion which is blocking the left sight of the runway.|
Thats why you can´t see the 03R takes from the point of the rotation, just when they are infront of you. Also, if an aircraft taking off from 21L and enters the corridor from your postions in the middle, everything else behind that is not possible to see.
Ground pictures are not possible due to high grass and the hill left of you.
|TIME||The best times are in the summer from 08:00 in the morning until 11:00 after there is a problem with heat haze and backlit. The winter until 12:00.|
|MISC.||There is nothing in this area so it is better to have with you what you need. Great care is needed when you leave your car. The roads serve the farmers of the area and you should not close them. Also in the summer it deserves special care not to cause fire.|
Scoot 135mm; Aegean:300mm; Fedex 215mm
|Spot #9 – Road Bridge|
|WHERE||This spot is on the bridge of main road to the terminals. Park your car at the entrance to the long-term parking (before the bridge) or at the terminal after the bridge. Then walk along the crash barrier towards the fence. Don’t stay too long here as not to attract too much attention, just take your photos trough the fence and go back to your car.|
|WHAT||Parked aircraft on the taxiway or aircraft taking the taxiway towards the terminal|
|TIME||Early in the morning, rest of the day you’ll face against the sun|
|MISC.||Don’t stay too long here as not to attract too much attention to the security|
|FOCAL LENGTH||DC10 (200mm), B732 (400mm)|
Spot #10 – Farm Road – 21R arrivals
|WHERE||Where: If you are coming from the airport, follow the way whole way to the EXPO area and leave the airport security area. At the junction turn right into Epar. Od. Peanias-Loutsas and drive all the way till the next roundabout turn around and drive back the road where you were coming from (you can´t make a left turn from the main road). After about 1km, take the 5th junction on your right side into a dirty road and drive it down for about 100m. Park your car at the side of the road.|
|WHAT||Arrivals on runway 21R only.|
|TIME||From sunrise until early afternoon|
|MISC.||Bring everything what you need, especially water as it can get very hot in the summer.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Focal length: 120mm (B763), 160mm (B738)|
Spot #11 – Chapel – 21R arrivals
|WHERE||Not the easiest direction. From Athens with direction to the airport, you reach the exit of Attiki Odos street number 18 “Spata”. At the junction you turn left in direction “Spata.” In about 1600m you turn right, and continue 1,5km and then turn left into the second paved road. Continue east directon to the airport, pass a football field and turn left at the last junction before a farm road (neve leave the paved road!). Continue north, pass the chapel and continue 200m and then turn right to park the car. Here you are!|
|WHAT||Landings on 21R Runway and takeoffs 03L RW|
|TIME||From 16:00-Sunset.Before the 16:00 the sun is over the point and the light is very strong|
|MISC.||There is not nothing here.Bring food,water and be carefull for the fire.Because there are light Stands along the runway, it’s a bit difficult to shoot a / c on the touchdown without any obstacle in the photo.Landings at 21R are only made when the southern wind blows. In Greece, the southern wind often brings dust from the deserts of Africa. This dust transfer results in a muddy atmosphere.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Air Serbia 250mm ; Emirates 230mm ; Aegean 300mm|