Local coastal shipping companies, and the banks they owe substantial funds to, are in talks with Greece’s merchant marine ministry to find ways that would ensure the survival of the country’s coastal shipping fleet. Bankers strongly believe that it is of the utmost importance to increase fares, for a start, and to completely deregulate them after November 2002.
Such a measure, they say, will define which shipping companies will endure the competition and which will not. Ship owners want to see winter fares increased by 10% and they want a completely different freight rate for all the expensive new-technology vessels that have entered the market over the past couple of years.
Banks have also agreed basically to refinance outstanding loans to most of the country’s coastal lines.
Meanwhile, the Association of Coastal Shipping Companies has already taken recourse to the state council against five ministerial decisions presently on the books. They want changes to articles that include the letter of guarantee for the proper operation of schedules; the stern mooring procedure and the priority at ports; the type and contents of the documents the companies need to run the schedules; the network of coastal lines; and the payment of salaries for the extra months of immobility for high speed vessels.
The association also placed a list of complaints to the European Committee regarding: age limit, compulsory composition of the crew, integration of upprofitable shipping lines, and te ministtry’s intervantion in fares’pricing.