Pilots slam Aegean’s bid

EXPA, the pilots association, yesterday pointed its guns at Aegean Airlines, the privately owned carrier which last week expressed interest in the government’s latest attempt to privatize national flag carrier Olympic Airways. Aegean’s past actions regarding Olympic, especially its charges to the European Commission that the national carrier was monopolizing routes, make it a far-from-desirable candidate, the association said. «It is shameful and goes against all justice when the persecutor wishes to acquire the victim,» it charged. Aegean’s financial record also indicated its unsuitability, EXPA said. The private carrier has yet to post profits since it commenced operations and expects to stay in the red this year. Olympic, in contrast, is forecasting an operational profit. Aegean’s takeover of a majority stake in Olympic could create a monopoly in the domestic market, the very thing which the former had alleged the national carrier of doing. «The objective is to preserve an existing carrier, which is at an impasse,» EXPA said. Five other bidders also expressed interest in a majority stake in Olympic. A number of the prospective buyers had taken part in last year’s failed privatization attempt. A US equity venture fund and a Greek-American businessman are among the bidders. The Transport Ministry expects to announce a preferred bidder this week. EXPA also reiterated its opposition to the government’s method of privatizing Olympic, saying the slimmed-down national flag-carrier would not be able to compete with bigger rivals in the European market. Dropping long-distance routes is set to deprive the airline of revenues and customers. Brussels is currently looking into subsidies the State provided to Olympic to see if they were illegal.

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