Heraklion Airport, officially known as the Heraklion Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport, is Crete’s Island main gateway to the world. It is Greece’s second busiest airport and is located a mere 5 km from the city centre. Serving Heraklion, Aghios Nikolaos, Malia and Hersonissos among other areas, the airport is dedicated to Heraklion native Nikos Kazantzakis, a Greek writer and philosopher.
Originally a mere piece of flat agricultural land, the airport first opened in March 1939. Operations paused during World War II but resumed after the introduction of the DC-3 aircraft. In the beginning, there were just three tents, no wind determination equipment and storm lamps were used for runway lighting. But development began in 1947 when the first terminal was constructed. In 1953, a paved runway 1,850 meters long and oriented as 09/27 was erected. The airport grew rapidly as a four-engine DC-4 aircraft landed for the first time in 1954. From 4,000 people, the airport now started servicing 18,000 passengers. The runway was extended to 2,680 meters gradually and the airport was completely renovated which now had a brand-new terminal. It was officially inaugurated as a new airport on May 5, 1972.
The airport operates on a 24 hours basis, all year round and it is owned and operated by the Greek government. It is used by both civilians and the military and it serves as a hub for airlines like Minoan Air, Bluebird Airways and Sky Express. Approximately 8 million passengers annually avail the services of the airport and it is well connected by road to the rest of the island.
There are three lounges for the comfort of the passengers located in the airport but they don’t offer sleeping facilities since they close in the evening. All passenger flights are located in one terminal and services including ATMs, Baby care facilities and currency exchange are offered to the passengers. The single level passenger terminal is divided in the Domestic Arrivals Hall, the Domestic Departures Hall and the Extra Schengen Departures and the Intra Schengen Departures Hall. There are three different passenger halls, one for the Intra Schengen Departures, another one for the Extra Schengen Departures, and the last one for the Domestic services.