Airline companies may have their grouses about the allegedly heavy levies at the Eleftherios Venizelos airport but passengers using the terminal are more than happy with the facilities on offer, ranking it the sixth best airport in the world and second in Europe, Athens International Airport (AIA) said yesterday. AIA, the airport operator, said the distinction was based on the latest International Air Transport Association (IATA) Global Monitor Survey for the third quarter of 2001, which covered the major airports in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific. More than 90,000 passengers were asked for their views. The review put Athens ahead of airports in Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei and Seattle. Dubai airport was voted the best, followed by Singapore and Seoul. Among European airports, Athens took second placing after Helsinki Vantaa Airport. It received kudos for its spacious and comfortable waiting and gate areas as well as catering facilities. AIA said the survey demonstrates that Eleftherios Venizelos truly is the new gateway of Greece to the world and is a highly competitive airport that will boost Greek tourism significantly. IATA’s positive assessment came as airline companies continue to pressure the airport operator to further cut levies, claiming that charge reductions announced last month were inadequate. In addition, the airport has been hit by a dramatic drop in passenger traffic as travelers cut back on their travels in the wake of the September 11 events. AIA Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mitscherlich had told Kathimerini English Edition that passenger volume is projected to drop by some 20-25 percent in the last quarter of the year as a result of the attacks on the US. AIA spokeswoman Jeanette Choisie told Kathimerini English Edition that the company was studying the possibility of another rate cut without, however, giving any specifics. She said passenger volume is due to pick up this month with Christmas just around the corner. Those escaping such situations are not economic immigrants but refugees, and are generally viewed as such by the British justice system, although recent events have brought this attitude into question. Other countries, such as Germany, support the same view.