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Green light for Olympic privatisation

Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis has given the green light to the modernisation of state carrier Olympic Airways<.>

Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis has given the green light to the modernisation of state carrier Olympic Airways<.> following a meeting with Transport Minister Christos Verelis.



Simitis underlined the government`s intention to proceed with OA`s privatisation. The firm must be restructured so that it is not a burden to society, he said. In common with the government, I`m sure Greeks want a carrier which provides high quality services at competitive prices, Simitis noted.



The tender for the sale of a majority stake in OA is expected to be publicised within the first 10 days of December.



Up until now, no foreign airline has expressed interest in the debt-ridden Greek carrier, apart from Germany`s Lufthansa which has specified that it would only take on the role of technical adviser. Two Greek consortiums have shown interest but only on the condition that the firm is run as a strictly private operation and with absolutely minimum staff.



The transport ministry intends to undertake measures to make OA more attractive to investors, such as reduction in staff through transfers and voluntary retirement.



Referring to OA`s reported operating deficit of 29 billion drachmas, Simitis said that the transport ministry will fill the gap in the transitional period before a buyer is found.



Proposals to privatise the airline, however, will not affect workers` rights, the premier said. Trade union opposition to the move has been partially responsible for the lack of investor interest in the company.

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