The acquisition of Olympic Air by Aegean Airlines was a necessary move in order that the two Greek airlines become viable, dealing with the challenges of an economic crisis and increasing competition in the airline market, Eftihis Vasilakis, vice-chairman of Aegean Airlines said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters during a news conference, Vasilakis said that airline passenger traffic was down 30 pct in the last three years, with the value falling by more than 45 pct over the same period. Average airline fare fell by 25 pct despite a hike in fuel prices. Passenger traffic fell significantly in Athens, while regional airports recorded an average increase in traffic of 12 pct. Domestic traffic fell significantly this year (-13 pct), while international traffic rose substantially. Vasilakis said that the international flights market totaled 3.5 billion euros, while the domestic flights market 240 million euros.
He acknowledged that Aegean Airlines suffered losses in the last three years, hit by an economic crisis, higher fuel prices (35 pct of total spending) and financial difficulties by Greek consumers.
Vasilakis said the acquisition of Olympic Air covered only the airlines’ flight operations and not its ground handling and technical base, while he estimated that the new company will be ready in a period of 5-7 months from the moment that competition authorities would clear the deal.
He also acknowledged that there will be a reduction in the new company’s workforce and said that synergies from the deal will total 30-35 million euros.
Aegean Airlines’ vice-chairman also criticized the Athens International Airport’s pricing policy saying the Athens airport was much more expensive compared with other competitive airports. Vasilakis said the aim was that the new company will become profitable again in the next two years, to operate a fleet of 50 aircraft in the next five years and 70 aircraft in the next 10 years and to have 10 bases in regional airports in Greece.