Attendants’ strike hits airline hard

Over two dozen Olympic Airways flights were canceled yesterday and travelers are expected to face continued hardship until Tuesday due to a four-day strike – launched in defiance of a court order – by flight attendants who oppose the state carrier’s makeover to a leaner, more sellable firm. An Olympic Airways announcement yesterday said 10 international and 11 domestic flights from Athens will not go ahead today due to the strike. Another 29 will not be affected. Cabin staff working for Olympic Aviation, which only serves domestic routes, and Macedonian Airlines – both part of the Olympic Airways group – are not participating in the strike. On Thursday, in response to a suit tabled by the struggling company’s lawyers, an Athens court ruled that the two 48-hour strikes planned by flight attendants from yesterday were illegal. However, unionists insisted that they would go ahead with their action – and did. Olympic currently employs 557 flight attendants. Twenty-five domestic and international flights were canceled, stranding hundreds of travelers who had planned to use Greece’s state carrier. The flights to be canceled today are numbers 423 to Montreal and Toronto, 321 to Istanbul, 606 to Corfu, 940 to Alexandroupolis, 504, 502 and 514 to Iraklion, 309 to Sofia, 718 and 714 to Rhodes, 914 and 916 to Thessaloniki, 329 and 337 to Larnaca, 536 to Hania, 950 to Kavala, 175 to Thessaloniki and Munich, 265 to London, 161 to Berlin, 135 to Geneva and 205 to Paris. Strikers oppose management plans to cut salaries and ax jobs in view of Olympic Airways’ transformation into a more streamlined company called Olympic Airlines – for which the government hopes to find a private buyer. Repeated attempts in the past to sell the company in its present form failed miserably. The new company will only employ some 1,800 people, with the rest of Olympic’s 6,100 staff staying on with the old company and offering services to the new one, in an effort by the government to ensure that no jobs are lost.