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As blogged earlier, Greece’s largest union, GSEE (General Confederation of Greek Workers and in Greek – Γ.Σ.Ε.Ε) called for a 24 hour strike on October 4th 2008 (today) after the Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis unveiled plans to privatize Olympic Airlines.

From CNN

Public transport — including the Athens metro, state railway services
and city buses — also came to a standstill, forcing thousands of
commuters to drive to work and causing major traffic problems in
central Athens.
Employees at the partially privatized telephone company OTE and
state-run public power company PPC joined the protest action as state
hospitals, also, operated with emergency skeleton staff.

From The Guardian

“Overthrow the Karamanlis government!” chanted some 3,000
protestors who marched past the Greek parliament, where the
ruling New Democracy party holds a fragile four-seat majority.
“Today was only the beginning, tomorrow all workers will be
on the streets,” said Yannis Panagopoulos, the head of GSEE,
which convened a nationwide general strike for Oct. 21.

GSEE said 100,000 workers walked off the job on Wednesday,
shutting down state TV for hours and cutting rail services and
hospitals to emergency staff. The SEV business chamber could not
provide participation figures for the strike.
Olympic was forced to cancel about 100 flights including
international routes to London, Paris and Rome. Public transport
in Athens was halted during the morning rush-hour period,
clogging main roads and causing kilometres-long traffic jams on
the capital’s main arteries.

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Earlier I blogged about Greece’s flag carrier going private. The conservative Greek government is trying to privatize a number of public utilities services like Greek Railway
Organization (OSE), Olympic Airlines and the Greek Post Office. As a result, in protest the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) has announced a 24 hour nationwide strike on Wednesday Oct 8th 2008.
“Olympic Airlines employees will also hold a 24-hour strike,
resulting in only one flight per destination locally and one per country
abroad.” (from here).
Even the Athens Metro will come to a halt.

The airlines has announced that it will cancel 100 flights affecting “flights between Athens and international destinations like London, Paris, Rome and Frankfurt, as well as some domestic flights“.

From Forbes

Union officials have
said they would hold talks with union leaders from other European
airlines, such as Alitalia, to discuss widening the protest.

Greece’s government last month launched a tender to sell off
Olympic, which loses around 1 million euros a day. It has promised to
compensate or find new public sector jobs for the workers, but union
leaders have pledged to halt the sell-off.

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Greece announced today that it has launched a tender to sell off its state carrier Olympic Airlines (Greek: Ολυμπιακές Αερογραμμές, Olympiakés Aerogrammés – OA). Pantheon Airways and two other
holding companies have been created which in turn would be sold off.

Assets that will be transferred to Pantheon Airways –

  • Right to use the Olympic brand logo
  • Airport slots
  • Aircrafts
  • IT Systems

After the sale, the airline will cease operations.

The plan did trigger series of protests from employee at Olympic Airlines. Last week in protest, the employees blocked the main runway at Athens International airport. Though, around half of the 8100 employees have been promised jobs in public sector.

Does sound like Alitalia all over again?

Some analysts consider the airline size and poor business history not big enough to get interests from European Airlines like Lufthansa and Air-France KLM.

From Forbes

The likeliest solution is
therefore to be a local one, with Greek investors or a small airline
perhaps making an offer. This might resemble the rescue of Italian
state-owned airline Alitalia,
which narrowly avoided liquidation after unions backed a consortium bid
from Italian investors. There is still a chance Air France-KLM and
Lufthansa will take a minority stake in the airline.

Interested in buying? Read the process from Reuters

PROCESS

– The buyer of Pantheon Airways will be selected via a
multi-stage process. Following the expression of interest,
buyers will be given access to a data room and due diligence
with a view to prepare their bids. The aim is to conclude the
tender within three months, by the end of 2008.

EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST

– Interested parties must submit an expression of interest
by Oct 31. They will receive summary information describing the
transaction structure and the assets for sale. Short-listed
applicants will be allowed access to a data room and a meeting
with management after a confidentiality agreement.

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Yesterday (April 6th 2008) Easyjet (Luton, UK based low cost airlines) Flight EZY 2002 (Boeing 737) flying from Athens, Greece to Luton, UK made an emergency landing at the Athens Airport. Passengers claimed big clanging noise with flames from the jet engines. The pilot circles around the airport to burn fuel before landing. The flight landed 40 minutes after take off.

The passengers were given the options of –

  • Transfer to the next London Gatwick flight (40 minutes later)
  • Next Luton flight (next day – Update – As George mentioned in the comment, the next day flight was 90 minutes delayed as well)
(Dated picture of Easyjet’s Boeing 737-700)

As reported the flight was already delayed by 90 minutes due to Snow in UK!

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