Olympic Airlines staff revolt

Hundreds of member of staff from the Olympic Airlines have launched a protest against the proposed privatisation of Greece’s flag-carrier airline.

A group of staff blocked a runway at Athens airport, but did not seriously disrupt flights scheduled to take off.

Greece’s conservative government announced last week the ailing airline would be split into three units – all of which are be auctioned off to private investors, ending years of wrangling with the European Commission over illegal state subsidies.

However, it is feared this will lead to wide scale job losses as the airline is rebranded as Pantheon.

In response, around a thousand protesters wearing their official uniforms marched along one of the airport’s two runways.

The European Commission approved the Greek government’s plan to break Olympic into divisions covering flights, ground handling, and maintenance, which would be sold to investors by 2009.

The privatisation comes as soaring fuel prices pile pressure on Europe’s struggling airline industry, with Italian flag-carrier Alitalia presently teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

Chris O’Toole

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