ECONOMY

OA’s Christmas schedule at risk

Apart from the subject of the survival or end of Olympic Airways, another key issue requires immediate solution: the rational management of Olympic Airlines’ flight schedule over the winter holiday season. The heads of the company have embarked on a race to find aircraft after continuous instances of breakdowns, not to mention some leasings that have expired this month. At the start of the new year, the airline can count on five fewer airplanes unless it manages to replace them in the middle of the holiday period (on December 31). Olympic will let go of three aircraft (two from Spanish company Hola and an Airbus 600). It has already terminated a contract for the Boeing 737-400 from Hola which had problems in its cooling, heating and pressure system, thus limiting the Olympic fleet to just 38 aircraft, four below the «safety» level required for the execution of the flight schedule without problems. The lack of spare aircraft, a phenomenon that has been dogging Olympic for some years, creates major worries for this festive season. The 41 aircraft to be used by the end of the year for the busy Christmas period may leave some gaps in the schedule. Any minor problem on a plane (even one which could be fixed in just a day or two) may well upset the entire schedule as there are no replacements. There was even a proposal for the cancellation of two weekly flights to Berlin and another to Iraklion, Crete, to avoid problems with the rest of the schedule, but this seems to have been rejected for the time being. The OA administration currently intends to complete a short-term business plan which will secure smooth execution of the summer schedule, while the drafting of a long-term business plan to include the next three years is probably useless, given recent developments regarding the bleak future of the company. The 12-month plan will need to incorporate moves on the flight schedule, which will in turn determine the number of aircraft required. Any short-term plans must include finding aircraft that would be immediately ready to fly.