Review: Olympic Air Kastellorizo to Rhodes (Dash 8-100)

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.

Kastellorizo

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.

kastellorizo
The gorgeous waterfront of Kastellorizo Town. ©Paliparan

PSO route

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 town megisti
I woke up to a gorgeous sunrise over Kastellorizo Town. ©Paliparan
kastellorizo papoutsis travel
The sole island taxi can usually be found in front of Papoutsis Travel Agency. ©Paliparan

Kastellorizo Airport

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.

kastellorizo airport
Kastellorizo Municipal Airport. After you finished check-in inside, you are free to sit anywhere outside or inside the building until boarding starts. ©Paliparan

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.

dash 8-100 olympic air kastellorizo
The Olympic Air Bombardier Dash 8-100 has just landed on Kastellorizo Airport. ©Paliparan
bombardier dash 8-100 olympic air kastellorizo
The plane makes a U-turn at the end of the runway, and then drives back to the terminal building. ©Paliparan

Boarding

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!

kastellorizo airport dash 8-100 olympic air
Boarding the Olympic Air Dash 8-100 at Kastellorizo Airport. ©Paliparan
kastellorizo airport dash 8-100 olympic air
The Olympic Air Dash 8-100 at Kastellorizo Airport. ©Paliparan

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.

olympic air dash 8-100 seat map
Seat map of the Olympic Air Dash 8-100. ©Olympic Air
olympic air dash 8-100
The cabin of the Olympic Air Dash 8-100. ©Paliparan
olympic air dash 8-100
Seats on the Olympic Air Dash 8-100. ©Paliparan
olympic air dash 8-100
The last row on the Olympic Air Dash 8-100 has 5 seats, just like you normally see on a bus. ©Paliparan

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

kastellorizo rhodes flight map
It’s a short 40 minutes flight between Kastellorizo and Rhodes. ©Great Circle Mapper

Departure

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.

safety briefing olympic air
The safety briefing is done by the sole flight attendant. ©Paliparan
kastellorizo take-off
The Bombardier Dash 8-100 accelerating down the runway. If you look closely, you can see the small terminal building of Kastellorizo Airport from the window. ©Paliparan
kastellorizo take-off plane
Airborne! ©Paliparan
turkish coastline olympic air plane
Just after take-off, the plane banks to the left. On the right side you have some good views over the Turkish coastline. ©Paliparan
ro greece
The island of Ro as seen from the air. ©Paliparan

In-flight service

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.

olympic air review domestic greece snack
We received a chocolate bar and a bottle of water during the flight. ©Paliparan
face mask olympic air
Each passenger was also handed a new face mask. ©Paliparan

Landing

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.

rhodes island
Rhodes in sight! ©Paliparan
rhodes town air view
Rhodes Town and its ports could be clearly seen from the window. ©Paliparan
dash 8-100 olympic air rhodes
The landing gear of the Dash 8-100 is deployed while flying over the northern tip of Rhodes. ©Paliparan
rhodes arrival plane
Flying over the north-western coast of Rhodes, which is dominated by large tourist resorts. ©Paliparan
rhodes airport landing
Flying parallel to the western coastline to Rhodes Airport. ©Paliparan
rhodes airport landing dash 8-100
Landing at Rhodes Airport. ©Paliparan
rhodes airport landing dash 8-100
Landing at Rhodes Airport. ©Paliparan
olympic air dash 8-100 rhodes airport
Our Olympic Air Dash 8-100 at Rhodes Airport. ©Paliparan

Arrival

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!

rhodes airport
Rhodes Airport. ©Paliparan
rhodes airport
Rhodes Airport. ©Paliparan
rhodes airport arrivals
Walking from the bus to domestic & Schengen arrivals. ©Paliparan
baggage luggage carousel rhodes
Waiting for my bag to arrive as the only passenger of this flight. ©Paliparan

Conclusion

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)

** rest of the chapters to follow soon **

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

2 thoughts on “Review: Olympic Air Kastellorizo to Rhodes (Dash 8-100)

  • April 5, 2021 at 9:52 pm
    Permalink

    Travelling in luxury again I see Koen on a Dash 8!

    My trip to and from Kastellorizo years ago was on an Olympic Airways/Ολυμπιακή Αεροπορία (in original form rather than one of the many reinventions) Shorts 330 Skyvan, they mostly had 360s and some were even based at Ellinikon for services to the islands that couldn’t cope with an A320/737 believe it or not including Mykonos and Santorini – but the 330 was ‘saved’ for inter-island routes that didn’t touch Athens. The vibration throughout the flight was teeth loosening and on take off something to be experienced. The seats I doubt would pass today’s safety standards and the inflight offering was orange juice or scalding hot black coffee all served in plastic tumblers! You only took coffee once because it was way too hot to either drink or hold. Back then there was no security at Kastellorizo either, you were given a boarding pass in exchange for your paper ticket and you took your own bag to the plane and the co-pilot loaded them. By your pic of the airport it looks unchanged.

    On return to Rhodes, I connected to Athens this time moving to one of their ‘intercontinental’ Boeing 707s which did used to turn up on domestic routes and the comparative luxury was amazing but again it was coffee or orange juice. On balance, I prefer Aegean!

    Reply
    • April 5, 2021 at 11:20 pm
      Permalink

      Oh wow. I have never heard of the Shorts 330 Skyvan before, learned something new. It literally looks like a flying van built in some bloke’s shed. I’m surprised such a thing managed to get any lift and reach some altitude! I don’t think the designers of that aeroplane ever heard of the concepts of ‘aerodynamics’, let alone them having used a wind tunnel or so for optimal design.

      I wouldn’t say there is no security at Kastellorizo right now. They did have a body scanner. Just there was only one police officer to handle both security of the entire airport AND checking all passengers going through the scanner!

      And yes, by the way how it sounds it seems these OA/A3 flights are much better than the old Olympic domestic flights, although I’m not sure if that counts for OA international flights as well in those years. What I heard/saw it used to be quite lavish back in the Onassis days. But in general I still like flying OA/A3 each time despite some ‘enhancements’ made to service/their frequent flyer programme. Nicely run airline, never had a bad experience!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.