Greece To Close And Relaunch Olympic Air

September 17, 2008

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Greece said on Wednesday it would shut down ailing state carrier Olympic Airlines and relaunch it under a new structure, ending years of failed efforts to find a buyer.

"In a little while, there will be an announcement on the agreement between Greece and the European Commission for the creation of a new Olympic," Greek Transport Minister Kostis Hatzidakis told reporters.

Greece's conservative government had pledged to either find a buyer or re-establish the loss-making airline as a new entity by the end of 2008.

Sources close to the company said the European Commission would approve on Wednesday a Greek government plan to shut down Olympic and transfer its valuable landing slots and trademark to a new company called Pantheon, which would be privately owned.

"(The new) company will keep the name, the symbols of Olympic, and it creates the conditions for dynamic growth of Olympic in the future," the minister said.

Some 8,000 employees are expected to lose their jobs but Hatzidakis said they would be taken care of.

(Reuters)