MIG open to idea of selling Olympic Air back to the state

Marfin Investment Group (MIG), which recently purchased lossmaking Olympic Airlines, is open to talks on selling the air carrier back to the government, as it gets ready to start flight operations in October. MIG Vice Chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos said that if there is a change in government on October 4, the new administration will have three months to decide whether it wants to repurchase the airline or buy a stake in it. «We first need to find out the government’s intentions,» Vgenopoulos told reporters. In April, MIG agreed to purchase Olympic Airlines, its ground-handling and aircraft maintenance units from the Greek state and has since been preparing to launch flight operations under the new company, Olympic Air. Socialist opposition party PASOK, which is leading the conservatives in the polls by between 5 and 6 percent, is believed to be interested in buying back a minority stake in the airline, which it considers to be of «strategic importance.» Vgenopoulos ruled out running the airline alongside the government. MIG has announced a $1.1 billion investment plan for Olympic Air, providing it with «one of the newest aircraft fleets in Southeast Europe.» Olympic Air’s fleet of aircraft will number 32 planes, including 16 Airbus 319s and 320s and 10 Bombardier Q400 aircraft. It is interested in joining SkyTeam, the world’s second-largest airline alliance, with 14 carrier partners, said Vgenopoulos, adding that «it is still very early» for such a deal.