Thursday, 24 September 2009

Goodbye Olympic Airlines - Hallo Olympic Air !

Wednesday 30 September is the last day of existence of Olympic Airlines, formerly Olympic Airways, the former national carrier of Greece which has brought in crippling losses over the years. The airline has been privatised after years of trying to find a buyer. As of 1 October 2009, "Olympic Air", under the ownership of the Marfin Investment Group, will take to the skies. One of the major problems of the former national airlines, set up and originally owner by Aristotle Onassis, was the age of the fleet. The core of the airline and the European and national networks were served by Boeing 737's, many of them over 20 years old.
The new fleet will consist initially of 13 Airbuses (320's and 319's) as well as 10 Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 aircraft , five Bombardier Dash 8-100 and one ATR-42. I imagine the Airbuses will serve the international routes and the Dash fleet will be allocated to the 20 domestic locations. In fact the fleet in considerably downsized although an additional number of Dash and Airbuses will also come into service by March 2010.  Total investment in new aircraft is well over $1.1 billion.
One major difference is that the new Olympic Air will no longer fly to intercontinental destinations. Until today Olympic Airlines was flying to Johannesburg, New York and to Toronto via Montreal. These routes never made profit and seemingly now have been abandoned. Additionally I imagine cuts in certain Euroepan routes, the new website of the airline gives few details but does state that it will serve London, Paris, Vienna, Brussels, Amsterdam, Milan, Rome, Bucharest, Larnaca, and Sofia. I assume several German routes (Berlin, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf and perhaps Munich) will get the chop mainly on account of the fierce competition Olympic Air will face from Aegean Airlines which in recent years has been taking on a increasing number of European routes to compete with Olympic.

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