Olympic heads for sale as bidders put up guarantee

The final act in the drama of Olympic Airways’ privatization is to be played within the next 48 hours, and the government is expected to make an announcement on the issue on Monday. Sources said that the Integrated Airline Solutions Consortium, led by Pavlos Vardinoyiannis, is expected to present the necessary bank guarantee of 102 million euros. However, the share holdings remain open. Also, the fate of long-haul routes and excess personnel has still not been decided. The consortium is said to want to keep the overseas routes while Credit Suisse First Boston, which is advising the government in the sale, wants to see them cut and the network tidied up. Vardinoyiannis is expected to present a check of 91 million euros drawn from Japan’s Mitsui Bank, while Olympic Airways pilots, who are part of the consortium, are said to have got a guarantee from Greece’s Aspis Bank. It is still unclear whether Thessaloniki businessman Dimitris Fessas will be part of the consortium. Olympic Airways has an excess of about 1,700 employees and there has been no decision on how they will be made redundant. The cost of laying off these people is expected to cost taxpayers more than 40 billion drachmas (117 million euros).

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