ECONOMY

Ferry companies calling for more subsdized routes

Coastal shipping companies are planning to ask the Merchant Marine Ministry for more ferry routes to be subsidized so as to avoid the risk of leaving a number of islands without services as of October, according to sources.

Kathimerini understands this means Athens would have to increase the level of funds for subsidies by 25 to 30 percent to ensure uninterrupted ferry services to all islands in the Aegean, big and small, for next season — a tall order given the state of the economy.

The sum provided by the budget to subsidize unpopular routes, which are not profitable enough to cover the ferry companies? expenses, amounts to 90 million euros for the period from October 2011 to November 2012.

Coastal shipping sources insist that unless immediate measures are taken, they run the risk of having to keep their ferries docked or even selling them to obtain the cash that would fund their basic operating needs. ?We are not scaremongering, nor are we blackmailing anyone, we are just telling the truth as it is,? a source from the Greek Shipowners Association For Passenger Ships (SEEN) told Kathimerini.