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New Eleftherios Venizelos airport begins operations

The government last week lavishly inaugurated the new airport at Spata. The new multi-dimensional Eleftherios Venizelos<.> international airport is…

The government last week lavishly inaugurated the new airport at Spata. The new multi-dimensional Eleftherios Venizelos<.> international airport is going operate in handling the expected boost in visitors to Hellas when it hosts the 2004 Olympic Games.

In the first day of operation, the airport welcomed an Olympic Airways flight from Montreal, Canada as the first airliner to land at the airport and bid farewell to KLM flight to Amsterdam as the first airplane to depart from the newly constructed airport.

The airport, which cost the Greek state some US $2 billion to construct, and which located some 30 kilometers east of central Athens, replaced the over sixty year-old Elliniko Airport in the southern section of the Greek capital.

An estimated 400 aircraft landings and take-offs were carried out at the new airport in the first day, amidst much havoc since many airport flights were delayed or cancelled, on account that there weren`t enough check-in counters operating to service the abundance of travelers. Later, check-in counters began to run more smoothly with the opening of additional counters at the airlines with a heavier passenger flow. The minor problems were attributed to a possible glitch in the communication link between the computers of a few airlines with the central system of the airport.

Nevertheless, and in the presence of over 3,000 guests, Prime Minister Costas Simitis told guests that the new airport would in the long-term be able to service some 16 million passengers a year. Moreover, he said that it had been made for further extending it in the future as well. On his part, and since the airport project was under the jurisdiction of his ministry, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis characterized the airport as a strategic investment of 660 billion drachmas that would generate and in the future support some 22,000 places of employment.

The new airport will also obligate airlines to increase their airfares. Domestic flights will be slapped with 11,075 Drs from 8,178 Drs and flights to EU member states, will be imposed with 8,039 Drs tax from 4,089 Drs.

Furthermore, all other flights will be slapped with a tax of 11,547 Drs from the previous 7,500 Drs.

To this end, access to the airport can be reached by three express bus lines, which cost roughly 1000 Drs, providing unlimited travel on all forms of transport for 24 hours. Bus lines include: The E95 leaving from Syntagma (Constitution) Square in central Athens; the E94 leaving from the Ethniki Amyna metro station; the E96 departing from Karaiskaki Square in Piraeus.

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