Fast moving developments in Greek aviation – the country’s two main carriers Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air have agreed to merge. Aegean is the privately-owned Star Alliance-bound carrier which has steadily grown its presence in the Greek sector over the last year, while Olympic Air is the new privately-owned successor to the long-struggling Olympic Airlines (and Olympic Airways before that). Aegean has off and on show some interest in bidding for Olympic in the past, and declared an interest shortly after Greek investment firm Marfin emerged as a potential buyer last February when an attempt to privatise Olympic initially failed. Marfin ultimately was chosen to buy Olympic’s assets – essentially the name and its rights, and relaunched the carrier at the end of September.
Under the merger plan, the new company will be Athens Stock Exchange listed and will ultimately operate under the Olympic name. Aegean and Olympic’s existing owners – Vassilakis Group and Marfin – will hold equal stakes. The deal is subject to approval from the EC.
“The prevailing conditions in the Greek economy as well as in the aviation sector dictate the combination of forces in order to maintain competitive customer prices, protect levels of employment and increase our competitiveness at a European level,” explains Olympic Air chairman, A Vegnopoulos. You can read Aegean’s announcement here
It completes a further transformation of Olympic, which only began life as Olympic Air less than five months ago. In the most recent issue of Airline Business you can read our interview with Olympic Air chief executive Antonis Simigdalas, carried out before news of the planned merger was disclosed, about why Marfin and Simigdalas were so keen to keep the Olympic brand alive. Read it here.