NEWS

In Brief

OLYMPIC AIRWAYS

Flights unaffected today despite continuing strike by cabin crews Olympic Airways said yesterday that it will carry out all 108 scheduled flights out of Athens today, using temporary staff to replace striking flight attendants whose action is also due to continue tomorrow, despite having been deemed illegal last week. The only disruptions will be the merging of Flight OA 902 with OA 904 (Athens-Thessaloniki-Athens) and of Flight OA 504 with OA 506 (Athens-Iraklion-Athens) and of Flight OA 181 (Athens-Thessaloniki-Duesseldorf) with OA 191 (Stuttgart-Thessaloniki-Athens). European Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio yesterday told reporters in Brussels that the only way the debt-stricken state airline could be saved is if it is privatized. HARBOR SAFETY Merchant Marine Ministry experts to seek ways of improving procedures A committee of experts will be set up to look into ways of improving safety procedures and infrastructure to allow the swift evacuation of ships in port during emergencies, under a decision yesterday by Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Paschalidis. The committee will also discuss ways of maximizing cooperation between emergency services. Its findings are expected to be ready in early January. ATHENS TROLLEY STRIKE No service between 11 a.m.-3 p.m. There will be no trolley service between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m today due to a four-hour work stoppage by employees, the Athens and Piraeus trolley bus company said yesterday. Unionists want a new collective work contract. New hotlines A new telephone hotline, launched yesterday by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni, offers Athenians and visitors information ranging from municipal services and duty pharmacies to the location of free parking spaces and public transport timetables. By telephoning 195, callers will be connected to operators who will answer their queries. The service (daily 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.) is soon to recruit multilingual operators so that foreigners can also use it. Meanwhile, a new nationwide service offers information about flight times, weather forecasts, gas station opening times on tel 11811. Soldier suicide A 29-year-old professional soldier on a five-year contract died after setting himself on fire on Tuesday after being thrown out of the army for using drugs, reports said yesterday. The man, who was not named, drove his car into a field outside the village off Kitros in Pieria prefecture, doused himself with petrol and set fire to himself, according to local farmers who called the fire service after seeing the man staggering out of his car. Poseidonos Avenue Traffic on coastal Poseidonos Avenue is to be disrupted in the vicinity of the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Neo Faliron, southern Athens, from Sunday when work gets under way to finish an interchange of Poseidonos and Kifissou avenues. The disruptions, which are to continue until the end of May 2004, include the diversion of traffic from Poseidonos Avenue (on the section between Tzavella Street and Kifissou) and the barring of traffic from the bridge connecting Pireos Street with Poseidonos. There will be a temporary junction to access the stadium. Bomb hoax An anonymous telephone call to the Rafina Port Authority yesterday, warning that a bomb had been planted on a passenger ferry due to set off for the Aegean, turned out to be a hoax. Port Authority workers evacuated 150 passengers from the Express Athina after receiving the call 45 minutes before it had been due to depart on the Andros-Tinos-Myconos route. But the ferry set sail, following a three-hour delay, after a police search unearthed no explosive device. Tasman Spirit Intense pressure from the Greek government eventually persuaded Pakistani authorities to release the four Greek crew members of a Greek-managed tanker, the Tasman Spirit, that broke apart off Karachi in August causing extensive pollution, officials said yesterday. A meeting of senior ministry and marine officials chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos agreed to step up pressure for Karachi to lift a ban on the sailors leaving Pakistan.