Two of the rusting, stripped-down passenger jets that once belonged to Olympic Airways (OA), which had been abandoned at the Hellinikon Airport since 2001, were recently acquired by the Cypriot company Zela Aviation. The objective of the company is to restore the once-abandoned airliners and display them to the public. For six decades, the airport served as the Greek capital’s main hub for commercial airliners. It was the Greek home of the ‘golden age’ of air travel, handling around 12 million passengers per year. But following the opening of the current Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (ATH) in 2001, Hellinkon was neglected and is now caught up in years worth of bureaucracy and debates surrounding what the airport site should be used for. One jet is a now rare BAC1-11 (above) sporting the colors of the Hellenic Air Force, which belonged to the Cyprus Airways fleet. Once the aircraft is restored, it will be donated to the Municipality of Lavrio and it will be placed next to the city’s harbor. The initial idea was to transport the aircraft to Cyprus in the historic colors of Cyprus Airways, but at the current stage, the transportation process was deemed particularly difficult and expensive.
The second aircraft is a Boeing 727, which was acquired in 1968 by Greek millionaire Aristotle Onassis for the legendary fleet of the Olympic Airways. After maintenance and renovation, this aircraft will be preserved until a final decision is made regarding the location where it will be displayed. Andreas Christodoulides, the President of Zela Aviation said: “These two aircraft are part of the history of Greek and Cypriot Aviation. The exhibition of these two aircraft to the public will provide an opportunity for people, especially the younger generation, to travel back in time and discover the fascinating world of the aviation industry.” Zela Aviation since its establishment in 2006 has been active in the field of aircraft wet/dry leasing, chartering, and aircraft sales. With offices in Cyprus, Greece, and the United Kingdom, Zela Aviation provides a range of services for its clients located in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North/South America. For more information, visit www.zelaaviation.com