Located within the Mediterranean sea to the southeast of the Greek mainland, the island of Crete is a well-liked vacation spot amongst European holidaymakers. It’s served by three industrial airports, with different amenities present for basic aviation and army functions. Let’s take a better have a look at which airports deal with which flights.


Heraklion Nikos Kazantzakis Worldwide Airport (HER) is located on the island’s north coast, near the resort of Malia. Not solely is it Crete’s busiest air hub, nevertheless it additionally ranks second (behind Athens Eleftherios Venizelos Worldwide) amongst Greek airports when it comes to passenger visitors. In 2019, the final full calendar yr of pre-coronavirus ‘normality,’ it dealt with almost eight million passengers.


The airport is a joint industrial/army facility, and its longest runway (09/27) stretches for two,714 meters. This permits it to deal with bigger plane, resembling the Boeing 777 that Austrian Airways deployed there amid large demand final summer season. Nevertheless, for essentially the most half, its visitors consists of seasonal and constitution leisure visitors operated by European narrowbodies to cater to summer season vacation demand.

All the standard European suspects fly to Heraklion seasonally, starting from low-cost carriers like easyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air to full-service flag carriers resembling Air France, British Airways, and Finnair. Away from Europe, Etihad flies in from Abu Dhabi on a seasonal foundation. Sure flights do function all yr, with most being home. Nevertheless, Aegean additionally serves three German cities year-round.

LOT and TUI are amongst Heraklion’s many seasonal operators. Photograph: Getty Photographs

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It’s price noting that there are plans to switch Heraklion Airport by the center of the present decade. These will see operations transferred to an upgraded Kasteli Airport, which at the moment serves as a army base. This can reportedly consequence, amongst different elements, in an extension that can convey Kastelis’s runway to three,800 meters lengthy. Heraklion Airport will then be a part of an city regeneration venture.


Crete’s second-busiest industrial airport is Chania Daskalogiannis Worldwide (CHQ), within the northwest of the island. Earlier than the coronavirus pandemic, this facility was dealing with round three million passengers per yr. Very like Heraklion, this airport can also be shared, when it comes to utilization, with the Hellenic Air Pressure.

Chania Airport operates equally to its bigger Cretan counterpart, with seasonal and constitution leisure flights forming the majority of its visitors. Yr-round companies primarily serve home locations, specifically Athens (Aegean Airways, SkyExpress) and Thessaloniki (Ryanair). The one exception to this rule is the Cypriot vacation spot of Paphos, to which Ryanair additionally flies all yr spherical.

Army plane are a typical sight at Chania. Photograph: Getty Photographs

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Positioned within the island’s northeast, Sitia Vitsentzos Kornaros Public Airport (JSH) operates on a a lot smaller scale. Certainly, even in 2018, its busiest pre-pandemic yr, the power nonetheless solely dealt with round 62,000 passengers, with this determine having dropped to simply over 11,000 in 2020. Its runway is 2,074 meters lengthy.

Owing to the regional nature of Sitia’s operations, the flights that serve the airport accomplish that all yr spherical. Olympic Air offers a direct hyperlink to Athens, whereas SkyExpress serves Alexandroupoli, Preveza/Lefkada, and Zakynthos.

What do you make of Crete’s airports? What number of have you ever visited? Tell us your ideas and experiences within the feedback!