Coastal shipowners call for fewer levies

Coastal shipowners are threatening to stop serving Greek routes from October unless the government decides to abolish third-party levies which amount to 30 percent of fares’ value. In the meeting held between the Coastal Shipowners Union (EEA) and Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis yesterday, they also warned of the risk from the rise in fuel prices, as operation costs are soaring. The minister reportedly replied that «the problem is understood but its solution lies with the Economy and Finance Ministry.» Yesterday LANE Sea Lines announced it will stop serving the Thessaloniki-Samos and Mytileni-Samos routes for the first two weeks of June due to the cost of fuel. This generated a furious response from Samos users. EEA also discussed with Voulgarakis their demand for an increase in the funds for subsidized routes. The minister had asked in a recent meeting of ministers that he obtain an additional 14 million euros for this purpose. Earlier in the day, members of the Competition Commission visited the EEA premises and confiscated a significant number of documents in order to examine certain gray spots in the companies’ policies on coastal shipping. EEA members denied any cartel patterns and said authorities can scrutinize them as much as they like. Today EEA is convening to elect its new president, following the resignation of Michalis Sakellis.