Downsize Olympic, adviser tells gov’t

Greece must reduce the size of state-owned Olympic Airlines (OA) by 30 percent so the troubled company can be privatized, according to an international consulting firm hired by the government, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. According to an operational plan presented in London by the consultancy firm Sabre, OA must be downsized if it wants to attract investors. The reductions will affect the number of staff and its flight destinations. OA will likely keep US destinations on its flight schedules, but will drop other countries, including South Africa. The plan, presented to senior government officials, says OA should have no more than 4,500 staffers. Some estimates put OA’s staff count at more than 8,000. The government has said it will relaunch the air carrier after the fifth attempt to privatize the airline failed last year. The European Commission last year also ordered the nearly bankrupt company to pay back 540 million euros in illegal state aid. It is not clear, however, how this money will be handled in the privatization procedure. Other Olympic Airlines changes that Sabre recommended include trimming the company’s maintenance services, operating between 30 and 40 aircraft and offering a number of ground and cargo services.

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