Four groups have submitted bids to acquire a majority stake in Olympic Airways in the Greek Government's latest efforts to offload the debt-ridden carrier.

The government had set an 18 June deadline after an earlier round of bids failed to meet requirements. Three of the prospective buyers which submitted bids in the earlier round - a Cyprus Airways-led consortium, Greek privately-owned Axon Airlines and the Restis shipping group - have put in revised offers, while a fourth has come from Australian company Integrated Airline Solutions.

The Cypriot consortium's offer of $100 million for a 51% share of Olympic would involve the airline division, but not its catering and heavy maintenance sectors.

Cyprus Airways says its offer is conditional on the Greek Government making an undisclosed financial contribution and reducing Olympic's 8,000 staff by 25%.

The Cypriot consortium plans to cut most of Olympic's long-haul routes and trim its 33-aircraft fleet. Further savings would be achieved through route-sharing and by pooling staff.

Low productivity, labour disputes and poor management have seen Olympic Airways' financial position worsen, leaving it with debts of over $100 million. European regulations rule out further government subsidy. Greek press reports say if a buyer is not found by the winter, Olympic will be unable to pay for wages and fuel.

Source: Flight International