Athens International Airport "Eleftherios
Venizelos" (Greek: Διεθνής Αερολιμένας Αθηνών "Ελευθέριος Βενιζέλος", Diethnís
Aeroliménas Athinón "Elefthérios Venizélos"; (IATA: ATH, ICAO: LGAV), began
operation on 29 March 2001 and is the primary 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 14 million
travellers annually and its name honours the Greek statesman Eleftherios
Venizelos. As of late 2011, the airport is the thirtieth busiest airport in
The airport was opened in March 2001
to replace the now-closed Athens (Ellinikon) International Airport. 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.
The airport 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 to
visit 'Eleftherios Venizelos' Athens International Airport made an emergency
landing on 13 April 2011 as a passenger suffered a heart attack. The first
scheduled A380 flight took place on October 26 from Emirates Airlines.
The Financial crisis of 2007–08 had severely reduced traffic at the airport.
United Airlines, Thai Airways, Gulf Air, and Czech Airlines are among the
foreign airlines who have left, and Singapore Airlines had relocated its
regional hub to Istanbul. Delta Airlines terminated its winter scheduled service
to New York City in 2012, leaving Greece without a direct connection to the
United States for the first time in almost 70 years. In 2010, the airport
handled 15,411,952 passengers, 5% fewer than in 2009.
The Main Terminal Building handles the all intra-Schengen flights, as well as
several non-Schengen flights. All check-in desks are located in the Main
Terminal. It has three separate levels, one for arrivals, one for departures and
a food court level complete with a view of the eastern runway.
The Satellite Terminal handles non-Schengen flights only. It is easily
accessible through an underground link complete with moving walkways. In 2009,
part of the Satellite Terminal was closed and a new above ground link to the
midfield satellite terminal was completed by the end of 2010. The complex is now
used as a Schengen facility. It has two levels, one for arrivals and the other