Greece’s national carrier, Olympic Airways, was officially transformed on December 12 into a slimmer, debt-free carrier under the name Olympic Airlines. After 28 years of public ownership, government now hopes to sell at least 51% of the “new” carrier to private investors. Olympic Airlines executes passenger and cargo flights only.
Olympic Airways remains a state-controlled entity that will handle a variety of airline ground services.
Transport Minister Christos Verelis said last month that the value of the new airline was estimated at 115 million euros ($139 million) – ground services company Olympic Airways holds onto its more than $600 million in accumulated losses.
The new carrier is supposed to be operating with about 1,850 employees compared with its predecessor’s 6,100, which included all ground services employees.
The government said it wants to sell at least a 51 percent interest in Olympic Airlines but that it is prepared to discuss even larger stakes. The government’s privatization advisers (subsidiaries of three major commercial banks), according to press reports, have estimated the value of the company at a minimum of 140 million euros. The government, therefore, should pick up at least 70 million euros from the sale to help offset the old airline’s accumulated losses.
The buyer will acquire a package that includes a company clean of debts, the internationally recognized Olympic five-circle sign, the name, a fleet of 47 aircraft (of which 18 are owned and the rest leased), the company’s licensed routes and its management.
Early in December interested investors had been asked to indicate their position within days and submit a memorandum of confidentiality in order to receive the business plan and all relevant details of the proposed new scheme – now renamed Olympic Airlines and shed of its past financial burdens. The suitors that expressed interest were invited for further contacts and to submit proof of their financial standing.