Privately-owned Greek carrier Aegean Airlines has submitted a proposal to the Greek Government to buy the assets of national carrier Olympic Airlines in a bid to establish a single Greek carrier.

The Greek government's attempts to sell flag-carrier Olympic Airlines through a public tender stalled last month after it refused to accept the only binding offers for three of the airline's divisions: flight operations, ground handling and technical services. It has since held talks over subsequent offers for the Olympic units.

Aegean is now offering to acquire Olympic Airlines' flight operations-related assets for €90 million ($113.5 million), its technical base assets for €20 million and Olympic Airlines' successor company Pantheon for €60 million.

"The aim of Aegean and its shareholders is to create a stronger Greek airline with the necessary critical size to be able to compete with even greater prospects in the international competition in the single European space," Aegean says, pointing to the recent consolidation wave in Europe.

"It is our belief that the needs of Greek tourism, the Greek economy and the expectations of our shareholders is best served by creating a large Greek company with the current core Aegean."

If successful, Aegean says it is willing to give up part of its activity in the domestic market, where it is the chief competitor to Olympic. Aegean, which carried 6 million passengers last year and is overhauling its fleet with new Airbus narrowbodies, has taken part in earlier tenders for Olympic.

US firm Chrysler Aviation is also reported to have submitted a €210 million offer for the entire Olympic group.

After it failed to attract satisfactory bids during the original Olympic Airlines tender, the Greek Government staged three-weeks of talks with Marfin Investment Group and Swissport. Marfin put forward a €45.7 million offer for the flight operations and a €16.7 million bid for the technical division, while Swissport improved its offer for the handling division.

Greece last year secured the all-clear from the European Commission to launch a successor carrier to Olympic Airlines through the creation of a new company, called Pantheon, which would acquire the prime assets of Olympic Airlines - chiefly the name, logo and slots.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news