What the CAA says about the new incident
The city’s airport was closed due to staff sickness and as a result passengers on flights ATHENS-KOZANI-KOSTORIA-Athens were finally served by taxi.
In detail, as stated in the announcement of the Civil Aviation Authority: “The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announces to the travelling public that the morning flight from the Athens airport “Eleftherios Venizelos” operating the route Athens airport -Kozani airport -Kasttoria -Athens airport did not land at Kozani airport (due to staff illness).
The three and six passengers from and to Athens were served at the airline’s care and expense (hiring a taxi) for their transportation by road to and from Kastoria airport.
The next flights to Kozani will be operated as normal”.
What had happened in Ikaria
Visitors and residents of Ikaria were left with their suitcases in hand as ethnos.gr reported that the island’s airport was closed unexpectedly in the middle of the tourist season and a pandemic due to the illness of the only telecommunications employee of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), without whose presence take-offs and landings cannot take place.
As a result, all three scheduled flights to and from the island (two by Aegean and one by Sky Express) were cancelled.
In addition to the tourists who suffered great inconvenience, passengers who were facing serious health problems and had planned to leave the island, even for extremely urgent matters, such as scheduled hospitalisation, surgery, blood transfusions, etc., remained stranded on the island.
The situation is similar at other small airports
According to information from ethnos newspaper the shortages in human resources are not limited to the airport of Ikaria where a telecommunications officer is serving. The airports of Leros, Kastelorizo, Kythera, Syros and Astypalaia are operating without any employee of this speciality, with the needs being covered by two-month rotational movements of employees from other airports.
The airports of Milos, Ikaria, Naxos and Kastoria have one telecommunications operator. Specifically, Naxos airport has two employees, but only one of whom is qualified, while for the airport of Kasos a replacement must be found immediately as there are currently two telecommunications employees, but one of whom is soon to retire and the second has already requested a transfer, which has already been approved despite the shortages in this particular specialty.
According to the Ministry of Transport, however, the recruitment process in the CAA is being launched through the APSP in order to strengthen the specialties that have staff shortages and are critical for traffic. This was announced after the meeting between the Secretary General of Transport, Yannis Xifaras and the Administrator of the CAA, Georgios Dritsacos, with a delegation of the Board of the Air Traffic Controllers Association.
“In fact, the Ministry is not only available to proceed with recruitment, but is initiating procedures for the creation of a mechanism for the replacement of staff, in order to avoid in the future the possibility of understaffing of the Service,” said a statement from the Ministry, which links the decision to the current incident in Ikaria, stressing that “the above is important, especially after the current incident at the airport of Ikaria and the sudden illness of a telecommunications employee serving on the island.”