EasyCruise Greek deal?

EasyGroup, the holding company of Greek entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou, said yesterday it planned to order four cruise ships from a Greek shipyard for use by its low-cost cruise business easyCruise. The deal, which was signed by Haji-Ioannou and Neorion Holdings, states the intention of easyGroup to buy four ships with a guest capacity of 500 passengers each. Haji-Ioannou, the founder and chairman of easyGroup, said the contract, for an undisclosed sum, was awarded to Neorion ahead of rival offers from shipyards in Spain, Italy and Germany. The resolution of several outstanding issues in the next few months will lead to a firm order for the ships, Haji-Ioannou said. «We shall have to work hard in the next few weeks to ensure that the deal stays in Greece,» said Neorion’s chairman Ioannis Tavoularis. Haji-Ioannou and Tavoularis briefed Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis before the agreement was announced. «It is an important business agreement which could boost tourism and the shipbuilding sector and have positive effects on the Greek economy,» said Alogoskoufis. EasyCruise is aimed at younger passengers, offering low-cost holidays off the Mediterranean coast of France and Italy and in the Caribbean. The company hopes to begin operating in the Greek islands. The plan envisages weekend trips to Mykonos and Syros, starting from a marina in Faliron Bay, and four-day cruises to Santorini with possible stops at Paros, Naxos, Milos or Serifos. Sources said Haji-Ioannou has asked Alogoskoufis for a long-term contract for the use of the Faliron marina. (Kathimerini, AFP)