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Olympic Air and Aegean Airline merger decision to be announced in a few days

31 December 2010 / 09:12:42  GRReporter
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A few days remain until the decision of the European Commission on Competition on the merger issue of the two major Greek airlines is announced. The managing bodies of the two sworn rivals announced at the end of 2009 that they want to join forces. Initial estimates show that both airlines cover 98 percent of destinations in Greece, which raised serious concerns about the formation of a monopoly in air transport. The issue was given for consideration by the European Commission on Competition and the decision is expected to be announced in January 2011.

Consumer interests will be protected said the responsible Commissioner Joaquin Almunia replying to the question of New Democracy Eurodeputies Costas Poupakis and George Koumoutsakos. He stressed again that the difficulty in the case of Olympic Air and Aegean Airline lies in the fact that the two companies hold almost all lines of the internal market of air transport in Greece. Almunia said that the countdown for the future of this merger has begun.

To comply with competition rules imposed by the European Union both air transport companies should give up some destinations and take others. Olympic and Aegean regrouping of lines made some Greek and European airports known until yesterday disappear from the lists. Olympic Air, for example, has no flights to Milan, Rome and Corfu. At the same time, the flight frequency to Vienna, Tirana, Belgrade and Kavala increased.

According to the latest information, both companies’ management bodies are positive about the final opinion of the Commission and believe that the merger will be approved. The European Commissioner for Competition postponed the final judgement on the issue of establishing a new mega-airline in Greece twice.

Costas Poupakis and George Koumoutsakos believe that the next days are the most critical and the decision will have enormous impact on the Greek air transport. Travelers in remote areas are most at risk as they have no other alternative to the two airlines and ticket prices will not be possible to be adjusted to competitive demand. According to sources familiar with the matter, the final decision was postponed twice to enable the Commission to examine, evaluate and find solutions to any problems concerning competition.

The employees of the organization opposed the ministerial decision and went on strike. After intense negotiations, trade unionists and government representatives reached an agreement. The result was summarized by the president of the union of civil aviation workers Vassilis Alevizopoulos: "these 480 specialists do not fit in our office!" The Minister of Transport and Infrastructure promised that pilots and engineers will be allocated to other services such as fire forces, evacuation units, emergency aid, etc..


Tags: EconomyCompaniesOlympic AirAegean AirlineMerger
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