ECONOMY

Five ferry companies hit rough seas

Five ferry companies serving the transportation needs of several of Greece’s remote islands are at risk of having some of their vessels repossessed due to mounting debts to fuel suppliers exceeding a total of 50 million euros, according to industry sources. Specifically, the ferry operators are SAOS, GA Ferries, Kallisti, Lane and ANE Thasou. Some of these companies have had their fuel supplies cut in the past, in a development that caused serious problems for the remote islands they serve. The possibility of any one of the ferry companies not going ahead with a scheduled transport route due to a lack of fuel will cause serious problems to the sector during the busy summer period, a source said. The companies have been asking petrol suppliers for more time to repay money they owe, citing cash-flow problems. Merchant Marine Ministry sources said they are watching developments very closely and claim that under no circumstances will any of the remote islands be left without any transport links. However, sources at the ministry added that it cannot directly intervene in order to settle the economic differences since the transactions are between private companies, also noting that the ferry operators are contractually obliged to travel to the islands.