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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-09-14

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Gov't to seek EU-sanctioned solution for OA that ensures job security
  • [02] Govt to discuss OA's future on Thursday
  • [03] EU Commission rules state aid extended to Olympic Airways illegal

  • [01] Gov't to seek EU-sanctioned solution for OA that ensures job security

    Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis on Wednesday said that the government was seeking a solution for Olympic Airlines, formerly Olympic Airways, that would ensure the security of the workforce and had the approval of the European Commission.

    Liapis made the statement after the Commission announced an anticipated decision that ordered OA to return more than 500 million in illegal government aid to the Greek state.

    The minister admitted that the Commission decision was a heavy blow to the airline's already precarious financial state and made the process of its privatisation even more difficult. He stressed, however, that the government would exhaust all margins for OA's sale and was already working on alternative solutions for the day after.

    Liapis noted that Olympic Airlines and Olympic Airways will continue to operate until the "best possible" solution is achieved and also reiterated the government's pledge to protect the rights of the workforce.

    The minister again blamed the current state of the national carrier on the policies of previous governments, which he said had driven OA and the thousands of people working for it into an absolute impasse.

    The European Commission on Wednesday found that Olympic Airlines is the successor company to Olympic Airways and has therefore received substantial state aid. Olympic Airlines was created in December 2003 as part of a restructuring programme for the national carrier and took over all flight operations that were previously carried out within the Olympic Airways Group by Olympic Airways, Olympic Aviation and Olympic Macedonian, as well as taking over the slots, traffic rights and public service obligations of Olympic Airways. All other activities - principally groundhandling, maintenance and engineering - remained within Olympic Airways (which has been renamed Olympic Air Services). The latter retained ownership of a number of majority shareholdings in other aviation-related companies in Greece, such as catering, information technology and fuel services.

    [02] Govt to discuss OA's future on Thursday

    An inter-ministerial commission, including Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis, Labour Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos, with Lazards, the foreign consultant in privatisations, will on Thursday discuss developments in Greece's national carrier OA following Wednesday's decision by the EU Commission giving Greece a two month period to resolve the issue, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said.

    Speaking to reporters, Roussopoulos reiterated that the Greek state is losing 1.5 million euros daily from the operation of OA, while replying to questions over the alleged interest by foreign investors to buy the national airline said "I don't think anyone considers OA to be a profitable company. A general interest is one thing and the problems facing the airline company are another. I don't think anyone has expressed interest to buy OA as it is, with its thousands workers and its financial burdens".

    The European Commission on Wednesday found that Olympic Airlines is the successor company to Olympic Airways and has therefore received substantial state aid. Olympic Airlines was created in December 2003 as part of a restructuring programme for the national carrier and took over all flight operations that were previously carried out within the Olympic Airways Group by Olympic Airways, Olympic Aviation and Olympic Macedonian, as well as taking over the slots, traffic rights and public service obligations of Olympic Airways. All other activities - principally groundhandling, maintenance and engineering - remained within Olympic Airways (which has been renamed Olympic Air Services). The latter retained ownership of a number of majority shareholdings in other aviation-related companies in Greece, such as catering, information technology and fuel services.

    [03] EU Commission rules state aid extended to Olympic Airways illegal

    The European Commission on Wednesday ruled that Greece's ailing national carrier Olympic Airlines (formerly Olympic Airways) must return tens of millions of euros to the State, opining that a number of measures taken by the Greek state since December 2002, including state financial aid, were illegal as they gave OA an unfair advantage over competitors. This decision closes an investigation, which started on 16 March 2004, into the state aid granted to OA since December 2002, when OA was ordered to repay 160 million euros to the Greek state for aid granted to the airline between 1994-2000.

    The Commission, in its long-awaiting decision said that between 1994 and 2000 the EU's executive took a number of decisions authorising public aid for the restructuring of Olympic Airways. In December 2002, however, the Commission found that further aid had been granted to the airline which was incompatible with the common market, and demanded that 160 million euros be repaid.

    That aid has still not been repaid.

    The exact amount to be recovered by the Greek state will be defined during the execution of today's decision.

    Meanwhile, OA employees staged a protest demonstration at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos international airport on Wednesday.

    The European Commission found that Olympic Airlines is the successor company to Olympic Airways and has therefore received substantial state aid. Olympic Airlines was created in December 2003 as part of a restructuring programme for the national carrier and took over all flight operations that were previously carried out within the Olympic Airways Group by Olympic Airways, Olympic Aviation and Olympic Macedonian, as well as taking over the slots, traffic rights and public service obligations of Olympic Airways. All other activities - principally groundhandling, maintenance and engineering - remained within Olympic Airways (which has been renamed Olympic Air Services). The latter retained ownership of a number of majority shareholdings in other aviation-related companies in Greece, such as catering, information technology and fuel services.


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