In this review, we will take a domestic Olympic Air flight from Kastellorizo (KZS) to Rhodes (RHO) on a Bombardier Dash 8-100 propeller plane.
After a great couple of days on the beautiful island of Kastellorizo it was time to move on to my next destination: the island of Halki. As Halki does not have an airport, it meant that I would have to go to Rhodes first and catch a ferry from there.
To get from Kastellorizo to Rhodes you can either take a ferry or fly. As I already arrived by boat, I opted for a flight out so that I could experience both options.
The air service between Kastellorizo and Rhodes is a so-called PSO route, a Public Service Obligation. PSO routes are subsidised flights which would be unprofitable to run for an airline without receiving government support.
These are often flights to remote islands or otherwise hard-to-reach places of which the government thinks that they cannot do without vital transportation links to the rest of the country.
Airlines either receive a cash sum on a yearly basis from the national government and/or the European Union (EU) to operate these routes, or are compensated for the losses they make.
In return for the subsidy, flight prices are however capped at a certain level so that local people can actually afford to travel. Airlines are also obliged to operate a minimum number of flights to fulfil their PSO obligations.
For my Olympic Air flight from Kastellorizo to Rhodes I paid 62 euro – the fixed price for flights in the high season whether you book a few days out or months in advance. For what it’s worth, low-season flights seemed to be capped at 49 euro one-way.
It’s not surprising that a country like Greece with its large number of islands has a lot of PSO routes. Although not in the EU, Norway actually has the largest number of PSO routes in Europe – which is not a surprise given the mountainous nature of the country and vast distances involved.
Getting to the airport
Like on many other small islands in Greece, there are no fixed public transport links. To get to the airport, there may or may not be a shuttle bus available depending on demand. If not, you will have to take the sole island taxi to get to the airport.
Both transport option can be found in front of the small Papoutsis Travel Agency in the centre of Kastellorizo Town. As there was no sign of the minibus – nor of any other passengers – I had no choice but to call the taxi driver, whose phone number is posted outside the travel agency.
As the taxi driver was having a coffee I had to wait for 5 or 10 minutes until he arrived. The 2.5 kilometres ride to the airport took less than 10 minutes.
It’s a short distance which you might as well walk, although you should note that the airport is on the other side of the mountain and the uphill hike will not be comfortable with luggage.
Kastellorizo Airport (IATA code: KSZ) – sometimes called Megisti Airport if you search for flights on a couple of flight booking websites – is extremely small. It may very well even be the smallest airport I have ever visited.
It almost looked like there were only two people working at the airport: the check-in lady, and a police officer tasked with both airport security and manning the body scanner.
The check-in lady also seemed to have a couple of different tasks as she doubled as well as baggage handler, taking the checked in bags by cart to the aircraft.
The small scale operations are not much of a surprise if you realise that Kastellorizo Airport is served by one flight a day at most (and in the low season that’s even less).
The Bombardier Dash 8-100 which operates the flight to Rhodes (the only place where you can fly to directly from Kastellorizo) has 37 seats only, so there isn’t really a need for more check-in personnel or other airport employees.
After finishing check-in and dropping off your bags, you are free to sit anywhere inside or outside the small airport building while waiting for departure.
The plane arrives
After a short while waiting, the Dash 8-100 arrived on time from Rhodes. As you can wait outside the building, you have some decent views of the plane’s arrival, although you cannot see the actual landing as this happened just out of sight behind a hill.
You can however see the plane slowing down on the runway, turning around, and taxiing back to its parking position right next to the airport building.
Although ten or so passengers disembarked from the aircraft, I already noticed that the passenger load for the flight back to Rhodes would be much lighter.
Apart from myself, only two other passengers had shown up. While waiting outside I had a little chat with them and it turned out they were a father and son from Athens who came to Kastellorizo to oversee construction on a house they had bought.
After a short while, we were called inside again by the security guard to go through security, after which we had to exit the building from the other door and could walk straight to the aircraft.
It was all an enormously relaxed affair without any of the usual airport stress and hurrying involved. The check-in lady even had a chat and coffee beside the plane with the two pilots and the sole flight attendant.
The flight attendant warmly welcomed me and the two other passengers on board. It really almost felt like flying on my own private plane!
Olympic Air Dash 8-100 seats
As I wrote before, the Bombardier Dash 8-100 of Olympic Air seats 37 passengers in total. It’s the smaller version of the Bombardier Dash 8-400 (Dash 8 Q400) which Olympic Air also has in its fleet. Although I have flown on the Olympic Air Dash 8-400 a couple of times before, this flight marked my first one ever on the Dash 8-100.
From row 1 to 8 the seats are two abreast at each side of the aisle, while the last row on the plane (row 9) has 5 seats next to each other similar to a bus.
These are all economy class seats – there is no business class product when flying one of these Olympic Air turboprop planes.
The seats in row 1 are the ones to pick if available as they have by far the most legroom. The seats in row 9 are obviously the ones to avoid if you can unless you happen to be travelling as a family of five.
Unfortunately, they were already taken upon online check-in, so I had selected seat 3F for myself as I figured that the views on the starboard side would be the best when flying from Kastellorizo to Rhodes based on the previous flight routes I saw on Flightradar24.
The seats on the Olympic Air Dash 8-100 are fairly comfortable and certainly sufficient for the short domestic flights within Greece on which this type of plane is used.
Needless to say, I had plenty of personal space around me and lots of shoulder room with no-one else seated next to me. That said, even when the flight is fully booked I still think it would make for a comfortable journey.
Kastellorizo (KSZ) to Rhodes (RHO) on Olympic Air
Flight OA97 – Dash 8-100 – Economy class, seat 3F
Departure: 8am – Arrival: 8.40am
Flight time: 0h40m – Distance: 85 miles
Costs: 62 EUR
With only three passengers in total, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the boarding process was enormously smooth and orderly. After a quick safety briefing by our personal flight attendant, the plane taxied back to the beginning of the runway.
The take-off was fast and smooth and for a brief moment there were some nice last views over the island of Kastellorizo before the plane banked to the left.
On board a domestic Olympic Air flight you can always expect a drink and a small snack, although due to corona the service was somewhat enhanced.
I received a chocolate candy bar and a bottle of water, which is really all you can ask for on such a short flight of just 40 minutes.
The friendly flight attendant also handed out a sanitary wipe and a new face mask to all three of us on board.
The flight from Kastellorizo to Rhodes went by extremely fast. Being seated on the right hand side of the plane I was fortunate enough to have some excellent views over Rodos Town and the entire northern tip of the island of Rhodes.
After a 90 degree turn to the left, we were on final approach towards Rhodes International Airport, flying parallel to the built-up western coastline of the island.
Landing on Rhodes was on-time. After a few minutes taxiing around the airport, the Olympic Air Dash 8-100 reached its final parking position on the tarmac.
As we had a remote stand far from the terminal building, we had to be transported by bus to the arrivals hall. Just being three passengers of course also meant having lots of personal space in the bus!
The two other passengers were both connecting to Athens, which meant that I was the sole passenger waiting for his luggage to be delivered at the baggage carousel.
I had a little chuckle when my trolley bag arrived on the belt, which immediately stopped running a second afterwards. Must be an easy day for the Rhodes Airport luggage handling team this way!
It was great fun flying from Kastellorizo to Rhodes on the Olympic Air Dash 8-100. Although being one of the only three passengers on board did play a huge role as the whole experience felt like taking a private plane, there were certainly a few other factors which contributed as well.
Kastellorizo Airport is a small and friendly place and it’s fun to see how just two people seemingly handle the entire airport operations.
Flying on the Olympic Air Dash 8-100 is also a pleasure. The seats on this propeller plane are comfortable and the on-board service is good too. Olympic Air offers a complimentary drink and a snack on a short 40-minute domestic flight, which really is all you can ask for on such a short hop.
I wouldn’t hesitate flying Olympic Air again when visiting Greece if the flight price is right.
Trip report index
This article is part of the ‘A Dodecanese Dream: Summer Island Hopping in Greece‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Back in the Skies – My First International Flight in the Age of Corona
2. Review: Kimon Hotel, Athens, Greece
3. Exploring Plaka: Through the Winding Streets of the Old Town of Athens
4. Climbing up the Acropolis: Visiting Athens’ Most Famous Sight
5. Review: Skyserv Melina Merkouri Lounge Athens Airport
6. Review: Sky Express Athens to Naxos (ATR 42)
7. Review: Studios Zafiri, Naxos Town, Greece
8. Naxos Town: The Gorgeous Historic Heart of the Cyclades
9. Review: Blue Star Ferries Naxos to Astypalaia
10. Review: Belvedere Studios, Astypalaia Town, Greece
11. Astypalea Town: The Unknown Crown Jewel of the Aegean Sea
12. Astypalea Island Guide: Exploring the Butterfly of the Aegean
13. On a Night Boat in Greece – Astypalea to Kastellorizo With Blue Star Ferries
14. Review: Traditional Apartments Alexandra, Kastellorizo, Greece
15. Kastellorizo: A Look Around Greece’s Easternmost Island
16. Hiking on Kastellorizo: Two Sunset Hikes Detailed
17. Review: Olympic Air (Dash 8-100) Kastellorizo to Rhodes (current chapter)
18. Guide: How to Travel From Rhodes to Halki by Ferry
19. Review: Dorothea Apartments, Halki, Greece
20. Halki Town: Eating, Swimming & Relaxing in Beautiful Emborios
** rest of the chapters to follow soon **