Glad to see you again, here some historical facts about OA
. It was formed to succeed TAE
(Technical and Aeronautical Exploitations Co) , a bankrupt state company. The assets were acquired by Onasis and a guarantee to operate as the sole Greek carrier. This right was relinquished at the end of 1974 and the company was bought by the Hellenic state paying then (I think), the hefty sun of 50 Mio USD. At that time, the company was in the red, following the "choc petrolier" of the seventies.
The company was the country's sole carrier until it was forced by the EU to open its domestic market to competition : Cronus Airlines, Aegean Airlines. Air Greece and Cretan Airlines, Venus AIr were few airlines that sprung from this deregulation. Today only Aegean Airlines survive as it is the merger between Cronus, Aegean Airlines and Air Greece.
Australia is being served on a daily basis thanks to a code share with GF
non-stop with their A340.
Concerning your first question , The lines that Olympic aviation ( wholly owned subsidiary of OA
) operates to remote island constitute a vital link fir these small islands. Of course these services are not profitable and are subsidized by the Greek government in complete accordance with Bruxelles since it provides vital air link to remote parts of the country, inasmuch WIDEROE provides the smae kind of services in Northern Norway (and are subsidized also by the Norwegian government). The only condition required by the EU is to have bids to operate these lines.
I will answer in French , cheer Mozart, concerning your third question : "Clientelisme politique" I am sure you are going to understand the woes of OA
by these little 2 words.
As a foreigner living in Greece, I can say that you can't dissociate politics from Olympic Airways , plus a very active role played by the unions to safeguard their vested rights.
But, on the other hand, is the lack of let us strategic planning that has cost OA
a lot . For example, Greece is situated at the crossroads of the Middle East, Europe, the Balkans. Wouldn't be a strategic move , to make Athens a hub for flights between eastern and northern Europe to the Middle East, the ex soviet republics of Georgia, Armenia , kazakstan etc.... Austrian was instrumental in playing that strategy and has become an active player in traffic flow between the East and West .
The collapse of Beirut has a hub following the civil war in the mid seventies should have been a golden opportunity for OA
to take the role of MEA
had the traffic rights etc...
A difficulty in seeing opportunities (please see the above 2 points), for expansion, OA
inaugurated lines to Scandinavia and to Spain at the end of the eighties , before that IB
were enjoying full monopolistic position on these routes and the Greek government was granting 5th freedom rights to such companies as Syrian Air on their weekly service DAM-ATH
and Iraqi AIRWAYS on BGW-ATH
, and Alia on AMM-ATH
In short, OA
could have been the most important player in this region of the world and alliances would have courted the airline, unfortunately political interference, poor planning have led this company into nearly bankruptcy.
Let us not forget that in-flight services , seat pitch are better than their European counterpart and it is also a pity that it can not capitalize on it. Yes, I know everybody have horror stories on OA
crews but also uplifting stories with this airline , I have had both experiences.