September 18, 2008
EU Approves Greek Plan to Privatize National Carrier Olympic Airways
EU approves Greek plan to privatize national carrier Olympic Airways
ATHENS, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- The European Commission on Wednesday approved a Greek government plan to rescue ailing national carrier Olympic Airways, Greek Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis announced after an Inner Cabinet meeting chaired by Premier Costas Karamanlis.
Hatzidakis told reporters after the meeting that the new air carrier would be privatized, offering job security for its workforce. The plan provides for closure of the existing debt- ridden company, with a parallel commencement of procedures for the establishment of a new company managed by private investors.
He said the new company will inherit the Olympic Airways name and logo and its valuable routes and airport slots in Greek and international airports.
Hatzidakis referred to a "major structural intervention" by the government regarding the thorny Olympic Airways problem that " permanently solves an issue that has occupied Greek society and the political system for the past 30 years."
According Greek national TV NET, the EU approved the Greek government plan for the privatization of the national air carrier, judging that it is in accordance with community law.
EU Transport Commissioner, Antonio Tajani stressed in Brussels that the Olympic Airways file is a sample of good cooperation between the Greek authorities and the European Commission, underlining that the decisions come after many months of contacts at technical and political level and are beneficial to Greece, competition and passengers.
Tajani expressed conviction that a new market in the air transport sector, without distortions from state aid, can develop in Greece. He said an independent trustee would oversee the sale to ensure EU rules are not violated.
Olympic Airways still employs some 4,600 full-time employees and about 3,500 seasonal workers, and has accumulated total losses of around euro 2.7 billion euros (3.85 billion U.S. dollars). For years, Greece supplied subsidies to the struggling national airline.
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