ECONOMY

Aegean Airlines on course for first operating profit

Aegean Airlines, the largest privately owned carrier in Greece, said yesterday it expects to post its first-ever operational profit this year, the result of a revenue jump and a tight leash on expenditures. Aegean, chosen by the government early this month as the second preferred bidder for a majority stake in national carrier Olympic Airways, said it is on target for an operating profit before amortization of some 2 million euros. The company has remained in the red in its three-year history. Revenues this year are projected to increase by 15 percent to about 205 million euros, a more than twofold increase from the 2000 result. The figure is a 15-percent rise from last year’s combined sales posted by Aegean and Cronus Airlines. The two carriers merged a year ago. Operating expenditures are expected to come down by 8 percent this year after Aegean restructured its network and renegotiated with its principal suppliers. The passenger/employee ratio amounted to 2,008, underlining its improved efficiency. Aegean said it was fast gaining on arch-rival Olympic in the domestic market. Its share of the domestic market based on revenues improved by 1.5 percent to 49.4 percent in the first 11 months of the year. It has a 45-percent market share in terms of passenger volume on domestic routes. The carrier also spoke out in favor of Olympic’s privatization, calling it essential to the restructuring of the airline industry in Greece. The government is currently negotiating with Golden Aviation, led by shipowner Stamatis Restis, for the sale of a majority stake in Olympic. The bidder is offering 150 million euros for a 70-percent share. Talks are expected to last through to January next year. Aegean employs 1,205 employees and has a fleet of 16 airplanes offering flights to 18 destinations locally and abroad. It plans to add two Boeing 737s to the fleet and introduce routes to Istanbul, Larnaca, Sofia and Cairo next year.