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Airlines merge in €72 million deal

- by Archimedes

Aegean Airlines takes over Olympic air.

Holiday visitors to the Greek Islands next year will find a single Greek flyer after a buyout deal was given the go-ahead. Talks are now under way for a complete takeover of Olympic Air by rivals Aegean Airlines after the EU approved the deal. According to the EU, Olympic Air was on the brink of collapse with no other buyer for the ailing airline.

The decision paves the way for a merger without breaking EU competition rules.

The Commission had blocked a merger attempt in 2011 as there were too many overlapping routes between the airlines.

Today there are only seven routes flown by both airlines and five of those are domestic routes from Athens to Crete, Lesvos, Santorini, Corfu and Kos.

Aegean Airlines looks set to buy the whole of Olympic Air for €72 million.

Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni described the merger of the two Greek airlines as "a positive development for the country's fields of aviation and tourism."

Aegean say the acquisition of Olympic Air will create the conditions for the establishment of a sustainable Greek carrier.

The takeover by Aegean could be completed as early as October 18 and then Olympic Air will become a subsidiary of Aegean.

Both Greek airlines will keep their brands and logos intact with each flyer retaining distinct aircraft and flight activity.

Olympic Airways was founded in 1957 and sold to the Greek state by former shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis in 1974.

The airline fell into steady decline under state ownership and was sold in 2009 for €177 million to the MIG consortium.

Olympic has never been profitable since the privatisation and it will now be offloaded to rival Greek carrier Aegean Airlines.