Olympic ‘not to’ go for a song

Contradicting the chairman of Olympic Airlines, the government yesterday ruled out any move to flog off the ailing state carrier for a nominal sum, insisting it would persist with efforts to negotiate a satisfactory sale. «I have repeatedly stated that we will not sell [Olympic] for a pittance,» Transport Minister Michalis Liapis told journalists after a meeting with Premier Costas Karamanlis. «We are trying to bring round the company and tidy up its finances… so as to privatize it in a way that will be beneficial to the economy and the workers themselves.» Asked whether the carrier would be sold for only 1 euro if a buyer could be found to pay Olympic’s debts and keep on its work force – as company chairman Petros Papageorgiou maintained on Tuesday – Liapis was indignant. «Of course not,» he said. The minister added that, even if the latest bid to privatize the company shares the fate of previous attempts and crashes, the government will try again after the Olympic Games. A new, debt-free Olympic Airlines was formed last year out of the ashes of the debt-ridden Olympic Airways.