OPINION

Stemming the demise of OA

Olympic Airlines (OA) represents yet another instance of the state hoping that «small is beautiful» will prove to be a winning formula. This follows the decision to radically restructure the ailing state carrier with the aim of keeping alive the symbol (if not the name) by allowing OA to continue operating with a drastically reduced flight schedule (concentrating on domestic routes and a few destinations in Europe and the Middle East) and fewer aircraft and personnel. Whatever their vantage point, everyone is likely to agree that this has been an emergency solution following September’s decision by the European Commission (chiding the government for covering the airline’s debts) but also in the wake of OA’s steady degeneration over the past few years. The blame for this state of affairs cannot be laid upon a single government but on successive regimes that never really attempted to forge the new policies and measures that the trade unions at other major air carriers accepted when their employers had been in trouble. It is almost unnecessary to list the details of these catastrophic policies, they are so well known: mismanagement, gross overstaffing for party political reasons, vast sums of money – that were supposed to be spent on purging corruption – literally frittered away, outrageously generous benefits for staff… The conclusion was virtually inevitable.