New OA to shed excess workers

Greece will continue to seek a private partner to take over 51 percent of Olympic Airways, the chronically ailing state carrier, which is to be trimmed and restructured until it becomes an attractive buy, the government said yesterday. An Inner Cabinet meeting confirmed the collapse of talks with Australia’s Integrated Airline Solutions (IAS) consortium, after IAS failed to put up adequate financial guarantees before the expiration of last Friday’s deadline. It also approved a restructuring plan for the company, which showed a profit just once, in 1995, in the past 25 years. Founded by shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, Olympic was nationalized in 1975. «We unanimously decided to restructure Olympic, to make it more attractive to the market,» Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said. «A new Olympic Airways will be formed with a modern, efficient and profitmaking business plan. And we will seek interested investors to fund it with private resources.» Christodoulakis said the new company would start functioning «in the next few months.» He added that the government’s current advisor on Olympic’s privatization, Credit Suisse First Boston, would continue to look for buyers. Transport Minister Christos Verelis said the government would seek 100-150 million euros in private funding «so that the new Olympic Airways can begin functioning.» Verelis insisted that no Olympic employees would be sacked. «There is a plan to help some 2,000 employees leave the company.»

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