Hellenikon Air Base, Greece
Origin of current name: Named after the Greek city Elliniko (Elleniko).
Date current name was assigned to base: February 25, 1976
Previous Names: Hassani Airport, Aug 1945-7 May 1946. Hassani Airport, 1948; Ellinikon Airfield, 1948; Athenai Air Base, 1948; Athenai Airport, 28 Feb 1958. Also referred to unofficially as Hassani Airfield, Ellinikon Airport, and Athens/Kalamaki Airfield.
Date Established: October 1, 1945
Date Occupied: October 1, 1945
Construction Began: January 1, 1947
Base Units: OL 4-Y, 1419th AAF BU, Aug 1945-1 May 1946; Det 7907th AF BU, 2 Jun 1948; 1015th AB Sq, 1 Jul 1948; 1632d AB Sq, 1 Oct 1948; Det 3, 1602d Air Trpt Wg, 23 Nov 1949; 7206th AB Sq, 1 Apr 1954; 7206th Spt Gp, 15 May 1955 (rdsgd 7206th AB Gp, 1 Jan 1973)
Changes in Capability: Used as a staging field for Air Transport Command on flights between Rome and Middle East 1945-1946; reoccupied to process U.S. aid flow to Greece and Turkey under Truman Doctrine and Marshall PIan in May 1947; new control tower completed 15 Nov 1948; 10 C-47s based on the field 1 Jul 1948; new passenger and freight terminal opened 13 May 1951; USAF activities relocated to one side of the airport, while hitherto occupied part was acquired by Greek civil aviation authorities and designated Athenai International Airport, 1956-1958; an AACS network of four facilities beneficially occupied early 1961; seven major buildings constructed and three more leased 1962-1964; accommodated airlift evacuation operations from Middle East (1967), Cyprus (1975), Ethiopia (1977), and Iran (1979, 1981); base has continuously provided administrative and logistical support to U.S. units and organizations in Greece, the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, and parts of Africa. Major Commands to Which Assigned: Air Trpt Comd, Aug 1945-7 May 1946; USAFE, 5 Apr 1948; MATS, 1 Jul 1948; USAFE, 1 Apr 1954.
Changes in Status: Base unoccupied and inactive between May 1946 and May 1947, when a small supply unit was stationed at Hellenikon to handle air shipments of Marshall Plan aid for Greece. Active 1 Oct 1945-1 May 1946; inactive 2 May 1946; activated only to process Marshall Plan aid for Greece, May 1947; became active USAFE installation, 2 Jun 1948. Closed in 1993
Base was Decommissioned on January 1, 1993
The airport was built in 1938, and after the Nazi invasion of Greece in 1941, Kalamaki Airfield was used as a Luftwaffe air base during the occupation. Following the end of World War II, the Greek government allowed the United States to use the airport from 1945 until 1993. Known as Hassani Airport in 1945, it was used by the United States Army Air Forces as early as 1 October 1945, as a base of operations for Air Transport Command flights between Rome, Italy and points in the Middle East.
A semi-permanent USAAF presence was established in May 1947 as the facility was being reconstructed to facilitate Marshall Plan aid to Greece and Turkey. On 5 October 1948, the United States Air Force assigned the Military Air Transport Service 1632d Air Base Squadron to the airport with ten C-47 Skytrain cargo aircraft being based at the airport.
A new control tower opened in 1951, and by 1954 with the end of Marshall Plan, the United States Air Forces In Europe 7206th Air Base Squadron (later Group) was assigned to the airport. Commercial airline service returned to the facility in 1956 with the airport being turned over to Greek civil aviation authorities. The airport was renamed Athenai International Airport, and the USAF used a small part of the airport for military cargo use, along with United States diplomatic air traffic.
The 7206th Air Base Group remained the primary USAF unit at the airport with the 6916th Security squadron providing electronic aerial surveillance of the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East). The USAF used the airport for airlift evacuation operations from Middle East (1967), Cyprus (1975), Ethiopia (1977), and Iran (1979, 1981). The American base was renamed Hellenikon Air Base on 25 February 1976, and also provided administrative and logistical support to U.S. units and organizations in Greece, the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, and parts of Africa. With the end of the Cold War, it was agreed to end the USAF presence at the airport and the United States closed its facilities in 1993.
In 1963, the Finnish star architect Eero Saarinen designed the East Terminal building. Prior to closing its passenger service, the airport was serving 12 million passengers per year.
After its closure to passenger traffic in 2001, the northwest portion of the airport was redeveloped, with runways being converted into a sports park that housed the venues for canoe/kayak slalom, field hockey, baseball, and softball during the 2004 Summer Olympics. Other Olympic-related upgrades to the airport included refitting one of the airport's western hangars to become the main Olympic fencing venues and one of the larger Olympic indoor basketball arenas. Although these massive upgrades changed the northern and western portions of Ellinikon, part of the runway still exists and there is a chance that it will remain in use as a general aviation airport (with a significantly reduced runway). The Athens radar centre is also still based there. There are three aeroplanes for Olympic Airways in west terminal.