Greece starts process to sell Olympic Airlines

International Herald Tribune
ATHENS, Greece: Greece launched the bidding process Friday to sell Olympic Airlines, the debt-ridden state carrier, officials said.

A government committee “decided to start the tender process to select private investors” for Olympic, according to a Finance Ministry statement without elaborating.

The carrier would be split into three companies handling flights, ground services and maintenance and repairs, the statement said.

Last week, the EU approved Greece’s plan to break up and fully privatize Olympic by the end of 2009, transferring most of its 8,100 staff to public sector jobs. The company will keep its name and logo.

But the EU said Olympic must pay back state subsidies worth €850 million (US$1.25 billion).

Employee unions oppose the plan, and have staged a series of protests over the past week.

The company has accumulated total losses of around €2.7 billion (US$3.97 billion).

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