The pilots and employees of the Greek national airline Olympic Airways announced that they will not strike during the Christmas and New Year holidays but said that the Minister of Transportation Kostis Hadzidakis is a persona non grata in the airlines’ airplanes. They also kept their right to strike after the holiday season. Olympic employees are protesting against the government’s plans to privatize the company.
During the last years it became evident that keeping and supporting their own airlines comes out to be very expensive pleasure for the Greek State. The culmination around Olympic’s situation was the scandal during September 2005, when the European Commission decided that “Olympic Airlines” and “Olympic Airways” have illegally received from the State ?500 million and they need to pay it back. In 2002 “Olympic Airways” was sentenced by the European Court for receiving illegal help by the Greek State accounted for ?160 million, which are still not paid back.
Athens insists that “Olympic Airways’” debt should be deducted from the compensations, which Greece should pay back to the company. Athens wants to strengthen “Olympic Airlines” and to sell it to private investors during 2008. This will be another try to privatize the airline company. In answer to the critics regarding the actions for solving the situation with Olympic, the Minister of Economics Giorgio Alogoskoufis noted that so many airline companies cannot be supported and stressed that the company costs the State ?1.5 billion. In the upcoming weeks, Greece needs to make a decision whether it wants to keep the company or to act seriously towards the next privatization.