The Greek Ministry of Transport is carrying out a tender procedure for the extension of the Paros Airport and its transformation into an international hub. What kind of development will this bring to Paros and Antiparos, given the climate change we are currently experiencing?
The old airport of Paros, which was no longer suitable, was closed down and replaced in a new location in 2016 with a runway of 1.400m that allows propeller planes to sufficiently connect the island with the mainland, satisfying thereby the needs of the local population and the visitors of the island.
However, the Ministry has decided to convert the present airport into an international one for the Schengen and non-Schengen areas. Its planned runway of at least 1.800m will enable the landing of bigger and more polluting jet aircrafts without any restrictions to the number of flights and their schedule, aiming to multiply the present number of visitors per year.
It is a fact that the existing airport lacks the necessary premises, but who can explain the need for multiplication of their surface by 16 through the construction of a building of 12.000sqm?
It is worth flagging that the project will not be seen in isolation as an international airport but will become a hub. Combined with the projected new port in Piso Livadi, it will ensure the travel to other islands via Paros. Paros will become a landing place for tourists, not to stay on it but to reach other quieter, “cleaner” and thus more attractive islands. The project is obviously threatening the quality of life of Paros and its global environment.
How will Paros-Antiparos cope with these challenges? With aeroplanes flying above their beaches, with the accumulation of emissions, insufficient garbage collection, scarcity of water, frequent energy blackouts, and failing internet? There are important issues to be tackled and decisions to be taken first, concerning serious environmental problems, the exponential increase of construction, the lack of basic infrastructure (e.g. roads and health care). Ironically, the project is supposed to be financed by the EU program for Environment & Transport, aiming at a low carbon economy, climate change adaptation, preserving and protecting the environment and promoting sustainable transport. Probably the authorities disregarded the obligations resulting from the Paris Agreement on climate change about freezing the CO2 emissions at the 2020 level!
In his recent speech before the Hellenic Association for Tourism Enterprises, PM Mitsotakis expressed his engagement for sustainable tourism that combines economic growth with environmental sustainability, aligning with the Greek-European commitments for the climate. He underlined the need to promote quality over quantity and make difficult decisions for saturated destinations so that tourism does not negatively impact the environment. He said: “we need to get rid of the tyranny of arrival numbers“. Interesting articles followed, (see Alexis Papachelas’ article in KATHIMERINI).
The project in question worsens the current situation and conflicts with the governmental and European policy, without any real previous consultation and detailed information with the public concerned.
Let’s then decide, even at this last moment, what kind of development we want within the next 10 years for Paros and Antiparos. Shall we leave to our children these jewels of the Cyclades with such a rich culture and history as a tourist destination with quality services and hospitality or as saturated islands ‘burned’ by their excessive development? Some other ‘green’ islands (Astypalaia, Tilos, Chalki) lead the way. Let us not stay behind, stuck in the massive tourism models of the ’80s!
Some of us, who are permanent or semi-permanent residents of Paros or Antiparos, took the initiative and created a group against the planned extension of the Paros Airport and brought the matter to the Council of State in June 2021.
We hope you will join us! We kindly ask you to share this message, fill in the form below and follow us on Facebook.
We are all together on this journey for a green and sustainable Paros!
Extending an airport with this lack of traffic and waste control will cause huge effects to the island. In order to walk the path for the next years of eco friendly and sustainable tourism the airport should be extended yes (buildings) but remain only for propeller aircrafts and private planes.