If Paros’ new airport is implemented and scores commercially as well as that of Mykonos did in 2019, Paros and Antiparos are facing a potential of 500.000 additional arrivals and 4.000.000 additional overnight stays per year, their July and August population increasing at the very least with 28.000 persons (as compared to the 2018 level), suffering a nuisance of more than 70 flights per day during those months.
“Τhe environmental footprint, which is greatly improved for aviation in our days, will be smaller than for the existing airport. The new one will accommodate larger aircraft that will carry more visitors, instead of smaller capacity planes.
However, I would like to dwell a little more on the oversimplified conclusion of the Friends of Paros that the expansion of the airport will lead to the attraction of mass tourism, which we believe is not scientifically supported, as, in fact, the exact opposite is true.
Having thoroughly studied the subject, I would like to explain why a destination contains all the benefits visitors expect to experience during their stay. People do not just buy tourism products and services, but the expectation of an experience. Therefore, the crucial issue for each destination is the ability to formulate experiences with high-quality features and excellent service. This issue perfectly serves the task of upgrading the airport.”
Is this indeed true? It is indeed key to understand the potentials of the intended airport extension.
- Passenger arrivals
The architect in charge of the design indicates ‘The program required for a terminal with a capacity to serve 250 two-way passengers, with 7 check-in counters and 4 gate lounges, including one to be used as a Swing Gate. A multipurpose hall, several Duty-Free and F&B areas have also been included (…) divided into two distinctive volumes, for the Arrivals’ and the Departures’ related operations, with the Air Traffic Control Tower rising above and connecting them.’ HCAA provided more descriptions, such as the total runway length of 1799 m, and the total airport building floor of 12 500 m2.
The usage of the airport facilities – the number of flights and passengers – will, of course, depend on Paros’ future attractivity. But the potentials can be assessed reasonably when comparing the key figures of the future Paros Airport with the current ones of the Athens, Santorini and Mykonos airports – of course being aware that runway length differences differentiate aircraft capacities (bigger aeroplanes needing more runway lengths) and by consequence, the number of passengers (PAX) handled. Other specificities may play a role too.
Public data available can be summarized as follows, and allow to determine the following interesting ratios :
(biggest) runway length
number of runways
12.787.015 PAX/m runway/ year
2.300.408 PAX/m runway/ year
1.520.145 PAX/m runway/ year
airport building floor surface
154,994 PAX/m2/ year
147,085 PAX/m2/ year
133,933 PAX/m2/ year
177.597 PAX/desk/ year
287.551 PAX/desk/ year
126.678 PAX/desk/ year
581.227 PAX/gate/ year
460.081 PAX/gate/ year
253.357 PAX/gate/ year
(PAX: IATA code accounting code for ‘passenger operations’)
(remark: MYK & JTR values above were monitored before their respective modernizations)
These ratios allow to make the following realistic potential capacity assessment (Mykonos runway and building dimensions and use conditions being more comparable to those of the future Paros Airport, except for its desk and gate infrastructure, where ATH is more of a relevant model) :
(biggest) runway length
1 437 068
(= MYK prorata : 1.520.145 /1.903 * 1 799)
number of runways
airport building floor surface
1 674 168
(=MYK prorata: 133.933 * 12.500)
1 243 182
(= ATH prorata : 177.597 * 7 )
1 840 326
(= JTR prorata : 460.081 * 4)
In other words, it seems reasonable to state that the potential capacity of the planned Extended Airport will be at the very least, 1.250.000 pax/year, or more than fivefold the 204.924 passengers handled in 2018. Of course, one must be prudent in determining structural capacities without making a more operational analysis. But this structural potential is also confirmed when comparing the planned airport design with other European airports of comparable sizes.
To put these figures into perspective, 1.250.000 passengers, or roughly speaking 1.250.000/2 = 625.000 arrivals would increase tourist arrivals by around 625.000 (future airport arrivals) –92.734 (2018 airport arrivals) = 532.266, say 500.000 units as compared to 2018, assuming ship arrivals remain at their previous level – which is a reasonable assumption as ship passengers are mainly nationals, whereas ambitioned additional 500.000 arrivals are meant to consist in mainly new international customers.
Since, as published by INSETE, summer stays exceed 8 days on average (which seems a low figure for Paro’s tourists), it means that Paros will undergo an additional 500.000 * 8 = 4.000.000 overnight stays. Now, it is questionable that the average summer stay of a tourist would be only for 8 days. But – as no data are available – let us continue on this basis.
Assuming that, as was the case on airport arrivals in 2018 in Paros, and seems to be the case in the whole of Greece, those arrivals will occur for the greater part (70%) during the summer season and 21% in each July and August,
it will result in an influx of 500.000 (additional arrivals) * 70% * 8 (days/stay) / (4 months * 30 days/month) = 23.333 persons on average, during the full high season.
This influx will be even more important in July and August. July and August at Paros Airport accounted for 42% of all arrivals of the year. Applying this ratio, the influx will represent 500.000 (additional arrivals) * 42% * 8 (days/stay) / (2 months * 30 days/month) an additional population of 28.000 persons during these 2 months.
Note: applying not the INSETE determined national average of 8 days but 15 days as an average vacation stay, this increase in population would (nearly) double to become: 500.000 (additional arrivals) * 42% * 15 (days/stay) / (2 months * 30 days/month) 52.500 persons during these 2 months – which is probably more realistic but cannot be confirmed in absence of trustable data.
What would such an influx of 28.000 residents staying 8 days on average mean in terms of flights? Again let us look at the reality of commercial aviation. Despite a commercial maturity of the destination, intense and aggressive commercialization of larger aircraft capacity by various airlines and charters serving Mykonos directly from abroad, the latter failed to fill their B737 and other A320 with more than 135 passengers on average per flight in 2019:
This does not mean that the A320/B737(capacity around 180 PAX) planes arriving at MYK were not carrying more passengers. Indeed, MYK air traffic is often a stop-over traffic (as Paros will definitely be) and has not sufficient runway length the allow planes to leave sufficiently refuelled for their return flights in all circumstances (well-filled fuel tanks making them heavy and requiring more take-off distance, not available on the 1.900 m MYK runway in all load- and weather conditions – remember: if extended as planned, Paros will only have … 1.799 m runway length – international planes flying to Paros, therefore, be more exposed to the need of such refuelling stops).
Stop-overs at other combined destinations (such as Athens and Kos in Greece, but also others such as Milan on the way from Paris, all with runway lengths over 2 400 m) allow stopover airline traffic to refill on other airports without Mykonos’ runway limit considerations but obviously make an additional take-off and landing unavoidable, annulling the benefit of the direct flight, both in terms of relief of airport use, of travel time, of kerosene consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental burdens.
The image of ‘big planes carrying more people with less environmentally polluting planes’ than small ones is definitely too simplistic: 135 passengers arriving on average with turbofan (“jet”) international aircraft, carrying up to ca. 45 transit passengers as burdening cargo, due to land and take-off again to refuel on their way ….
Let us come back to Paros. It can reasonably be assumed the ambitioned new 500 000 arrivals are to be international travellers only, current airport traffic remaining as before. Let us also assume Paros flights will attract clients as the Mykonos’ ones do, and will welcome 141 persons per international flight during summertime (i.e. the average reached on arrival planes in Mykonos in July and August 2018).
We have (reasonably) assumed above that July and August account each for 21% of the yearly arrivals. This means that those 2 months will face each an arrival potential of 21% * 500 000 = 105 000 persons monthly, or around 105 000 / 30 = 3 500 persons per day. If one flight carries 141 passengers due to stay, it will require 3 500 / 141 = 25 international flights (which is comparable to the number of international flights arriving daily in Mykonos in August 2018, but less than what Mykonos endured in 2019 in the same period).
In conclusion, one can expect the airport to receive during July and August potentially around 25 international flights a day, additional to the current (national) ones (currently around 10) managing around 35 arrival flights and 35 departure flights per day. Needless to point out that this number of aircraft movements (over 70 per day in total) will require airport operating hours beyond the current ones and cause early morning and evening – if not night – traffic.
We will describe in another communication, the effects of environmental impact potentials of such traffic.
We will also provide soon more data on aircraft pollution, showing why current propellor aircraft (which are more than happy with short runways as the current Paros one) are less polluting than turbofan (“jet”) aircraft, and why future propellor propulsion planes will be the first ones to be flying, silently and without greenhouse contribution in the near future, still needing no long runways.