Hopes soar for new Olympic

Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis yesterday said the sale of Olympic Airlines to the investment holding company Marfin Investment Group (MIG) would be a major money-spinner for the Greek state, as details of the new owners’ plans for the carrier began to emerge. «We will have a new Olympic, for which Greek taxpayers will not have to pay 350 million euros per year,» said Hatzidakis. «Instead, we will receive 150 million euros per year in taxes.» MIG has offered a total of 177.2 million euros for the airline, including 45.7 million for Olympic’s flight operations and 16.7 million for its technical base. Negotiations between MIG and ground-handling firm Swissport for the purchase of Olympic’s ground-handling services for 44.8 million euros are expected to be concluded by the end of the week. The deal has yet to receive the approval of the European Commission but Brussels is expected to give it the green light this week. According to sources, MIG has already begun looking at cooperation with other European airlines and is searching for either new or used airplanes to buy. The buyout group, Greece’s largest, is expected to begin publishing tomorrow classifieds advertising positions with the new airline. The future of some 8,000 employees currently working for Olympic is set to be decided over the next few weeks. Sources said that MIG plans to offer 2,500 to 3,000 workers early retirement while another 4,500 will be offered jobs in other areas of the public sector, although they will also have the opportunity to apply for positions with the new airline. MIG is expected to take complete control of the airline in September and part of the deal it has struck with the government is that it will not sell it on for at least another year after that.

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