Claims fly over OA’s leased aircraft

Olympic Airways aircraft technicians accused their management yesterday of putting the safety of passengers at risk by leasing planes of «unknown origin» to cover some routes, as industrial relations within the company slipped to a new low ahead of its planned privatization. The technicians’ union (EPTAOA) issued a statement accusing the airline of disregarding the safety of its passengers by hiring planes which were «flying scrap heaps.» The company denied the claims. A lack of funds has led Olympic to lease 40 aircraft and crew from 24 foreign firms this year to fill gaps in its schedule, as it does not have a single plane to spare. However, the policy has raised fears about safety, especially after a leased aircraft was forced into an emergency landing in Paris in July and then banned from taking off again because of a technical problem. The plane, leased from a company in the United Arab Emirates, had previously been used by an airline in Sierra Leone. Olympic said yesterday that leased aircraft only account for about one in every 50 of its flights. However, the outburst from technicians came on the same day that management became locked in a dispute with flight attendants after they had to call off a strike yesterday when a court ruled it illegal. The company said it was setting up a panel to investigate why its flights had suffered so many delays over the summer, claiming that fewer than 400 attendants had taken more than 4,000 days of sick leave between June and August. The attendants’ union said the figures were wrong.