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Olympic Airlines unions vow to fight carrier liquidation

Both trade unions and opposition groups in Greece vowed on Thursday to continue fighting the decision of the conservative Greek government to liquidate the national air carrier, Olympic Airlines.

The groups announced that they would be staging demonstrations and sit-ins and pursuing legal avenues in a fight they are calling “a mother of all battles,” in order to stop the sell-off of the airline.

The transport spokesman for the opposition, Nikos Sifounakis, in calling the sell-off plan a crime against the people of the country, said: “It is a huge mistake … 6,500 employees stand to lose their jobs because the conditions of this scheme are so painful. We will give our support to all these protests.”

A restructuring of airline, which has operated at a loss almost from the time it was bought by the Greek government from Aristotle Onassis in the 1970s, is being viewed as a key element in the effort of the centre-right government to modernize the country’s economy – and could help end years of strife with Brussels.

Olympic is the last airline in the EU that is wholly-owned by a government, and is thought to be losing approximately 500 million euros annually. Attempts over the years by a series of Greek governments to privatize the carrier have always run up against resistance by the 17 unions representing employees of the airline.

On Thursday night, the 490 pilots employed by Olympic vowed to strike. Over this past year, the pilots have read proclamations during flights that speak out against plans to privatize the airline.

www.olympicairlines.com

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