Cretan entrepreneur Theodoros Vassilakis, the founder of Aegean Airlines, died on Thursday, aged 78. He was also the man behind car rental company Autohellas-Hertz and car retailer Autotechnica Velmar.
Vassilakis was a founding member of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) and in recent years was the driving force behind the promotion of golf tourism in Greece, creating the Aegean Airlines Pro-Am international tournament and the Crete Golf Club, a golf course of international standards near Iraklio.
He first got involved in business in Iraklio in 1961. During the 57 years since then, he provided Greece with a network of enterprises that benefited the public not only through the thousands of jobs created, but also by constructing a positive picture of the country and the potential of its human resources.
Vassilakis is credited with building a competitive airline that rivaled Olympic Air, which it then went on to buy from Marfin Investment Group, effectively saving the national carrier from disappearance in October 2013. Aegean has grown so much that in March it signed a deal for the order of up to 42 Airbus aircraft worth $5 billion, the biggest private investment in Greece.
His funeral will take place on Saturday in Kifissia, northern Athens.