Olympic Airlines must repay as much as 540 million euros in state aid and taxes to the Greek government, the European Commission has ruled. This could threaten Greece’s plan to sell its flag carrier to an investment group. Greece said it would continue to try; government spokesman says Olympic has cost the taxpayers about 3 billion euros.
Europe’s transport commissioner said debt-laden Olympic Airways’s restructuring plan which involved creating Olympic Airlines did not follow EU aid rules. Jacques Barrot said that the other airlines in the EU were respecting the rules and that Olympic would have to repay at least 150 million euros. He said the Commission would take Greece to the European Court of Justice again if the aid was not recovered.
The Greek transport minister blamed 1994 to 2003 governments for Olympic’s current state. Union representatives for Olympic’s pilots, cabin crew, ground staff and technicians have been demonstrating at Athens International airport, promising to fight against shutting down the airline. Barrot said Greece should be in a position to create the conditions for one or more airlines to exist in fair competition.