Olympic Airlines To Close - FACTBOX

September 17, 2008

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Greece on Wednesday announced it will close down ailing state carrier Olympic Airlines and relaunch it under a new structure after failed attempts to find a buyer.

Following are facts about Olympic Airlines and its predecessor Olympic Airways.


-- Olympic Airways was founded by shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis in 1957 after he took over Greek national airline TAE.

-- Onassis sold Olympic back to the government for about USD$68 million in 1974 after his son Alexander died in a plane crash.

-- Mismanagement led the carrier into financial hardship in the 1980s. Unions often struck for trivial issues. Staff numbers were swollen by vote-hungry governments and the airline became severely indebted.


-- In 1994, the EU Commission requested the airline's restructuring and an end to government subsidies. The plan called for early retirement of staff, a three-year wage freeze, a EUR158 million euro capital injection and debt relief.

-- By 1996 the Commission realized the plan was not being fully implemented and prohibited further capital injections.

-- Brussels approved another restructuring plan in 1998. A year later the government hired British Airways subsidiary Speedwing to turn around Olympic but the plan failed.

-- A 2000 tender to sell Olympic proved fruitless.

-- A further restructuring in 2003 established Olympic Airlines, a slimmed down version of Olympic Airways, and the government launched a new sale effort.


-- Following the spin-off of Olympic Airlines, Olympic Airways was renamed Olympic Airways Services. Its current operations include ground handling, cargo handling, aviation training and technical maintenance.


-- Shares are wholly owned by the state which in December 2004 hired Lazard, National Bank, Alpha Finance and Emporiki Investment Bank as advisers to the latest privatization effort.

-- Operates 37 aircraft to 36 domestic and 36 overseas destinations and has about 4,500 staff. Employees total about 8,000 when combined with Olympic Airways and seasonal personnel.

-- In the red since its launch. Reported net loss of EUR23 million in 2003 and EUR87 million in 2004.

-- Main domestic competitor is privately held Aegean Airlines.