Ellinikon International Airport , sometimes spelled Hellinikon (in Greek Ελληνικόν) was the international airport of Athens for sixty years up until 2001 when it was replaced by Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport. It is located south of Athens, and just west of Glyfada. It was named after the Greek city Elliniko (Elleniko).
The airport had two terminals; the west terminal for Olympic Airways and the east terminal for international flights. Its IATA code of ATH is now used at Eleftherios Venizelos airport. It is bounded by residential houses, beaches in the west and in the south by the wooded trees of the Glyfada Golf Club along with the Ellinikon-Glyfada municipal boundary.
After its closure to passenger traffic, 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 center is also still based there.
Since the end of the 2004 Summer Olympics, there have been discussions about developing what remains of the old airport and its runways into an urban park in order to alleviate Athens' need for more green spaces. If this project is realized, the proposed Hellenikon Metropolitan Park would be one of the largest in Europe.
The airport was built in 1938. 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. During the Cold War, the Greek government allowed the United States Air Force to use the airport from 1945 until 1993 as a staging field for Air Transport Command on flights between Rome and the Middle East and to process U.S. aid to Greece and Turkey under the Marshall Plan with cargo and transport aircraft. Known originally as Athenai Air Base until about 1975 when it was renamed Hellenikon Air Base, the 7206th Air Base Group provided a base of operations for the 6916th Security squadron (electronic aerial surveillance of the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East), airlift evacuation operations from Middle East (1967), Cyprus (1975), Ethiopia (1977), and Iran (1979, 1981). The American base also provided administrative and logistical support to U.S. units and organizations in Greece, the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, and parts of Africa.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the airport was a major site for attacks relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The airport was also the destination point of two attacked aircraft: