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Athens International Airport, which began operation on 29 March 2001, is the civilian airport that serves the city of Athens and the region of Attica. The airport is the major hub and base of Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air. The airport serves more than 15 million travelers annually and was named after the Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos. The airport has become increasingly popular as a gateway to Asia and the Middle East.

General information

The airport was opened in March 2001 to replace the now-closed Athens (Ellinikon) International Airport. The first arrival was an Olympic Airways flight from Montreal and the second one was an Olympic Aviation flight from Kythira. The first departure was a KLM flight to Amsterdam.The airport is located between the towns of Markopoulo,Koropi, Spata and Loutsa, about 20 km (12 mi) to the east of central Athens (30 km (19 mi) by road, due to intervening hills). The airport is named after Elefthérios Venizélos, the prominent Cretan political figure and Prime Minister of Greece, who made an outstanding contribution to the development of Greek aviation and the Hellenic Air Force in the 1930s.

The airport currently has two terminals: the Main Terminal, and the Satellite Terminal accessible by a foot-tunnel from the Main Terminal. As of 2009, a new above ground link to the midfield satellite terminal is under construction with a completion date by the end of 2010. Once completed, the complex will be used as a Schengen facility. It has two runways that are each approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) long. The airport was developed by public-private partnership with Greece holding 55% of the shares.

The airport is designed to be upgraded over the ensuing years in order to accommodate the increase in air travel and its upgrades are planned in a six-phase framework. The first (current) phase initially allowed the airport to accommodate 16 million passengers a year, but was upgraded to 21 million passengers a year without progressing to the next phase thanks primarily to IT advances. The sixth phase will allow the airport to accommodate as many as 50 million passengers a year. The current runways are designed to accommodate 50 million passengers a year with the completion of the sixth phase. In 2010, the airport handled 15,411,952 passengers, 5% less than in 2009.

It is also an airport that has received approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration for take-offs and landings of the biggest passenger jet worldwide, the Airbus A380.

The first Airbus A380 made an emergency landing at 'Eleftherios Venizelos' Athens International Airport on the 13th April 2011 as a passenger suffered a heart attack.

It is also among the 30 busiest airports in Europe.

In 2005 and 2006, the Airport was awarded the Skytrax award for best airport in Southern Europe.

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