NEWS

OA flying on borrowed fuel reserves?

Olympic Airways, the troubled national carrier of Greece, has been flying on «borrowed» fuel this year and for parts of the previous year, because, unable to keep the mandatory five days of reserves, it has been using fuel held in reserve by fuel companies at the airport, Kathimerini’s Aristea Bougatsou reports today. The administration of Athens International Airport has complained that it will cancel its contract with Olympic Fuel Company (OFC), the airline’s subsidiary which was set up to provide fuel to all airlines at the airport. Motor Oil and Avin, who are partners in OFC with a 28 percent stake, have sent the company a lawyers’ note demanding that normality be restored and warning the five board members appointed by Olympic Airways of their responsibilities. (Olympic holds 66 percent of OFC, with another 5 percent owned by BFSC, a former subsidiary of Sabena, and 1 percent by Hansa Consulting. The fuel reserves which OFC handles at Athens Airport belong to BP, EKO, Mobil, Shell, Cyclon and Texaco. Olympic Airways has been using fuel from their reserve tanks. When, three years ago, Swissair was unable to pay up front for one day’s fuel it was grounded. Olympic, however, kept flying. OFC’s chairman, Michalis Karalis, sent a letter explaining the situation to Transport Minister Christos Verelis, with a copy being sent to National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, on July 18, 2003. «Olympic Airways, because of its economic problems, in large parts of 2002 and all of 2003 did not have the mandatory reserves of five days of fuel in storage, nor the reserves necessary to cover its planes’ everyday needs; it drew from the common reserves on the apron, which are owned by the others who store fuel in the system (BP, EKO, Mobil, Shell, Cyclon, Texaco).» In mid-April airport officials protested, Karalis wrote. «The shortfall was for 11 days, in other words, at a point where because of the reduction of the overall reserves, there was a threat to the airport’s ability to provide fuel because of the increased demands of Easter and the arrivals of foreign leaders for the informal EU summit and Accession Treaty.»