NEWS

Olympic’s rocky takeoff toward becoming Airline

Olympic Airways, Greece’s national carrier, began the last stage of its tempestuous journey yesterday, with Parliament voting by 52 votes to 46 to break it up and hand over its flight operations to a slimmer company unburdened by debt. But the metamorphosis into Olympic Airlines, which will employ some 1,800 people (while the rest of Olympic’s 6,100 employees will stay with the old company and offer services to the new one) was hit by the labor unrest that has troubled Olympic for years. At Athens International Airport, thousands of travelers tried to get onto a smaller number of Olympic flights, or onto other carriers, after OA flight attendants failed to turn up for work. A court ruled late on Wednesday that a strike scheduled by flight attendants yesterday was illegal, as the airline had not been given enough warning, but some 200 attendants called in sick yesterday while others refused to work on their designated day off. This left thousands of passengers struggling to get onto flights, management scrambling for solutions, with flights being rescheduled, other airlines getting Olympic passengers and many people being put up at hotels. For today, flights OA 187 (Athens-Copenhagen-Athens) and OA 147 (Athens-Brussels-Athens) have been canceled. Olympic will decide early today whether it will go ahead with scheduled transatlantic flights. Transport Minister Christos Verelis said he would seek the prosecution of the boards of the Olympic employees’ federation (OSPA) and the flight attendants’ union (EISF). Management plans to rent aircraft and crews today. Only PASOK deputies voted in favor of the formation of Olympic Airlines. The attendants and technicians claim they will not have the same labor rights under the new dispensation. The government is hoping to sell a majority stake in Olympic Airlines.