ECONOMY

Olympic Air to cease services to Thessaloniki, Iraklio and Rhodes

Olympic Air cited on Wednesday its “huge contribution to the Greek economy and society under very difficult financial conditions” in a statement regarding the suspension of three core routes to Thessaloniki, Iraklio and Rhodes, which it had announced earlier in the week to the travel agents it cooperates with.

A similar move was made in 2009 when Marfin Investment Group acquired Greece’s flag carrier from the state and exalted the airline’s role in Greek society while announcing the reduction of its services.

On Monday Olympic informed travel agents that as of October 13 it will cease to connect Athens with Thessaloniki and Iraklio, while flights to the island of Rhodes will stop from the end of September. This leaves the airline with just 29 domestic routes, most of which are state-subsidized services to unpopular destinations, while its international network numbers no more than just five routes.

When Olympic Air started operating in 2009 as the heir to Olympic Airways, it did not have many more services within Greece (33), but its international network was far more extensive as it included 17 routes.

The company’s statement announcing a halt to its main domestic services suggests that it constitutes a decision toward the “rationalization” of its flight schedule, which “is necessary in order for the company to strengthen its effort to improve its finances and continue to operate.”

Still, it did not rule out resuming those services at a later date, saying that “if in the near future it appears through a change to market conditions that from the reduction or the termination of the flights the existing demand for air transport services is not satisfied, Olympic Air may revise its decisions,” while attributing the solution of reducing its network to the drop in demand.

MIG bought Olympic’s logo and flight activity in 2009 for 177.2 million euros, including the technical base and ground-handling services. Along with the reduction of its network, Olympic has also reduced the number of aircraft that the company operates, as from the 32 it had in October 2009 it now operates just 16. In May it also shut down Olympic Engineering, its technical base.