Ferry owners decide not to dock their ships in protest

Coastal shipowners decided yesterday against mooring their vessels in protest, judging that the Merchant Marine Ministry has made concrete steps toward the full liberalization of the sector. They also decided to meet again in a fortnight to examine the ministry’s further moves; they will then determine whether to proceed with any strike, which would cause major disruption if it took place during the summer. «We fully realize that liberalization cannot happen overnight. What is important is that there are steps being taken in the right direction,» coastal shipping sources said, adding that «there are still some pending issues, such as the obligation for the vessels’ 10-month scheduling, enforcement of the Stockholm Agreement (providing for the extension of a ship’s life beyond 30 years) and the liberalization of fares from all ports that have wrongly been exempted.» Meanwhile, the Merchant Marine Captains’ Association (PEPEN) asked for strict application of the 10-month-per-year law in the employment of captains and officers on all passenger ships. It also called on the state to end the seamen’s civil mobilization and adopt a series of measures PEPEN proposes to improve living and working conditions for officers. Hydroplane proposal A group of Mexican entrepreneurs are planning to use hydroplanes to link the central Greek city of Volos with the neighboring islands of Skiathos, Skopelos and possibly Alonnissos. They have presented a business plan to the Greek ambassador in Mexico City. It provides for flights to begin next summer in 19-seater Canadian DHC-300 aircraft. The initial cost will run to 3.9 million euros, rising to 19.5 million euros upon its completion. Early next month, they wish to meet with the competent ministers in Athens to present and discuss their plans. Shipping sources said that the hydroplanes could contribute to the improvement of transport to the islands and upgrade service to passengers.