In a further effort to distance itself from collapsed namesake Viking Airlines, Greek carrier Viking Hellas is to re-brand its charter business as Fly Hellas and close its London Gatwick base.

Viking Airlines ceased operations in October and had its air operator certificate (AOC) revoked by Swedish authorities. It is currently under creditor protection.

Sweden's Viking Group, which oversaw Viking Airlines, established Greek division Viking Hellas last February.

Viking Hellas is privately-owned, registered in Greece and holds a Greek AOC. The exact relationship between the Viking companies is unclear, but Viking Hellas said in a statement last year that it was "akin to an alliance".

Viking Hellas says that as a result of "unfortunate media coverage in the UK due to incorrect association" with Viking Group, it has decided to rename its charter division Fly Hellas from 1 May.

The carrier's Gatwick base will be closed this month and Fly Hellas will operate its two Airbus A320s from its Athens and Cyprus bases only. It will operate leisure services to destinations in Europe and Russia.

"It should be noted that, under the new brand name, only a small percentage of the company's total capacity will be sold in the UK," says the airline in a statement.

"The majority of seats will be sold in the Russian and strong EU markets, where revenues are currently much higher than in the UK."

Scheduled services will continue to be operated under the Viking Hellas brand. Viking Hellas recently teamed up with a consortium of German and Iraqi investors to launch a new joint venture in Iraq called Viking Middle East.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news