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Aegean Airlines sulautuu Olympic Airiin

Unsuccessful in its bid to purchase Olympic Air from the Greek government last year, Aegean Airlines yesterday announced a merger designed to create “a national airline champion with enlarged presence

Unsuccessful in its bid to purchase Olympic Air from the Greek government last year, Aegean Airlines yesterday announced a merger designed to create “a national airline champion with enlarged presence in the European market as well as seamless coverage of even the most remote islands of our country.”

The new company eventually will take the Olympic name and will be listed on the Athens Exchange. Olympic Handling and Olympic Engineering will be wholly owned subsidiaries, while Aegean majority investor Vassilakis Group and current OA owner Marfin Investment Group will be equal partners in the venture. There also will be minority shareholders. Aegean offered more money than MIG for Olympic one year ago, but the Greek government chose the latter because of competition concerns.

Aegean Chairman Theodoros Vassilakis and OA Chairman and CEO Andreas Vgenopoulos “are expected to lead the new company, ensuring the smooth integration of the business,” according to Aegean. The merger is subject to European Commission approval and no timetable was announced.

“The relative size of our competitors within the EU necessitates the joining of the two main Greek airlines,” Vassilakis said, adding that the merger will “ensure the long-term development and viability of the two airlines and protect the levels of employment in the sector.” Vgenopoulos issued a statement echoing those sentiments, adding that the deal “at the same time preserves and strengthens the Olympic brand name, an inherent piece of our national tradition.”

Aegean currently operates 18 A320s, four A321s, four 737-400s and six Avro RJ 100s. OA flies nine A320s, eight A319s, 10 Q400s and five Dash 8-100s, for a combined fleet of 64 aircraft. A3 currently serves 24 domestic and 26 international destinations, while Olympic flies to 41 Greek and 15 international airports. Employee rolls comprise 2,500 at A3, 1,300 at Olympic Air, 2,000 at Olympic Handling and 50 at Olympic Engineering. The parties did not say whether the merger would result in any layoffs.