Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Greek carriers Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines to merge

by B. N. Sullivan

Olympic Air logoEarlier this week, the Greek carriers Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines announced plans to merge. Following a transition period, the merged airline will use the name and trademarks of Olympic Air, according to a statement released to the press. Olympic Handling and Olympic Engineering will become wholly owned subsidiaries of the new company. The merged company is being billed by the partners as "a national airline champion."

Under the terms of the merger agreement, the main shareholder of Aegean (Vassilakis Group) and the sole shareholder of Olympic Air (Marfin Investment Group) will have equal shares in the consolidated company. The merger must be approved by the European Union, however it is projected that the merger will be completed by late 2010 or early 2011. The new company would be listed on the Athens Stock Exchange.

Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air are Greece's two largest airlines. Aegean currently employs about 2,500 people, while Olympic Air's present work force numbers about 1,300. Another 2,000 are now employed by Olympic Handling, while Olympic engineering has 50 employees. Statements from the companies made no mention of whether any employees would be made redundant by the merger.

Aegean Airlines had planned to join the Star Alliance in June of this year. According to a Financial Times article about the merger, "analysts expect the new entity to take Aegean’s place in the grouping."