Kastelli International Airport is a new airport under construction in Heraklion, Greece. Credit: Schuppi / WikiCommons.
The European Investment Bank will provide EUR180 ($199.52m) loan for the new airport construction. Credit: European Investment Bank.
The current Heraklion International Airport will be replaced by the new Kastelli International Airport. Credit: George Kokkinidis-GR / WikiCommons.

Kastelli International Airport is a proposed new international airport to be built on the Island of Crete, Greece, by Ariadne Airport Group, a consortium of Greek firm Gek Terna and Indian company GMR Airports.

The new airport will serve the growing air transportation requirements in Greece by replacing the existing Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport in the city of Heraklion on Crete Island, which has been operational since 1937.

Initially, the new airport will be able to handle nine million local and international passengers a year while its maximum handling capacity will be 15 million passengers a year.

The foundation laying ceremony of the project was held in February 2020, and the airport is scheduled to be operational in 2025.

The project is expected to create 2,000 jobs during the study and construction phase and up to 7,000 permanent jobs during operation.

Location of Kastelli International Airport

The new international airport is being constructed on a 600ha site situated 360m above sea level in Kastelli village in the north-west part of the city of Heraklion.

Located adjacent to Kasteli Hellenic Air Force Base, the new airport will be 35km away from the existing Heraklion International Airport.

Design and features of Kastelli International Airport

The new Kastelli International Airport will feature a five-storey passenger terminal building with a 71,620m² floor area. The terminal building will have the capacity to accommodate between 57,500 and 65,000 passengers a day initially.

A 3.8km-long Code E runway, capable of handling commercial aircraft such as the Airbus A380 jet airliner will be built 450m parallel to the existing military runway in Kastelli. Two 4F Category parallel taxiways will be constructed to facilitate independent operation.

The airside facilities also include a 15,000m² cargo terminal building and an apron area capable of housing 44 aircraft. The commercial space will spread over 400,000m² area.

Landside infrastructure will be built on the west side of the runway. Additionally, commercial infrastructure facilities will be accommodated across a 22ha area to the south-west of the airport.

An internal road network will be built along with a two-branch access road with four roundabouts. The airport will also feature control tower, fire department, police, airport maintenance, ground service installation and 150kV power substation.

Financing of Kastelli International Airport project

The total cost of developing the Kastelli International Airport project is estimated to be €500m ($585m).

The state government will provide €180m ($200m) for the construction of the airport. The project will also receive up to €220m ($260m) from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Contractors involved

The Greek Ministry of Development & Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, in co-operation with the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority, selected engineering and consulting firm DENCO to develop the master plan for the new international airport.

DENCO collaborated with Greek firm CNWAY Engineering Consultants to conduct a study on the airport site in 2004.

Greek engineering company TEKEM provided consulting and preliminary design services for the project in 2009.

Ariadne Airport Group, a consortium of GMR Airports, and Terna, an infrastructure company based in Greece and a subsidiary of GEK Terna Group, placed a bid of €480m ($509.42m) to build the new Heraklion airport in October 2016.

The consortium was selected as the successful bidder in June 2017. It will be responsible for the design, development, financing, operations and maintenance of the airport for a concession period of 35 years.

Hill International was selected as an independent engineer to provide project management, construction management and consulting services for the airport project in June 2018.

Need for a new airport in Greece

Heraklion International Airport, which has a capacity of more than six million passengers a year, is currently serving as Greece’s second international airport.

The Heraklion airport has a single runway, a small terminal building, and ageing air and landside facilities, which are no longer sufficient to serve the growing air traffic in the country.

These capacity constraints and traffic congestions at the current airport led to the development of a new greenfield international airport in Heraklion.

Featuring increased passenger capacity, the Kastelli International Airport is expected to improve the country’s tourism industry and economy.

In addition, the airport will contribute to the aviation industry by serving an increasing number of international tourists in Greece.