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Encyclopedia > Olympic Airways
Olympic Airlines Boeing 737

Olympic Airlines (Ολυμπιακές Αερογραμμές - O.A.) is the state-run, flag carrier of Greece.


Early Starts of O.A.

Olympic was founded as Olympic Airways (Ολυμπιακή Αεροπορία) by Aristotle Onassis on April 6, 1957 after he took over the Greek national airline T.A.E. (Technical and Aeronautical Exploitations - Τεχνικαί Αεροπορικαί Εκμεταλλεύσεις) It was the first airline to have scheduled flights to five continents. In 1974, Onassis sold the company to the Greek government, following the death of his son Alexander. According to the files of the Greek Presidency Onassis requested $60mn financial aid from the government, while Olympic was sold to the state for $68mn.

On December 8, 1969, an Olympic DC-6B crashed near Athens, Greece during a storm killing 93 people. Despite this disaster, Olympic remains one of the safest airlines worldwide.

O.A. in the 1980's

The company has faced serious financial trouble since the 80s, mostly because of its dubious management. In fact, the management has not only been haphazard, the airline was used as an employment provider for politically connected individuals, and was severely indebted as a result. Olympic Airways is a prime example of the corruption and politically motivated management that persists in many Greek state enterprises — while there are bright spots of excellence, Olympic was recording heavy losses and running at one point flights to Tokyo, which was its most unprofitable route. Furthermore, Greek politicians and their families travelled free on the airline or for token amounts. The political appointees assigned to run the company usually had no relevant background and the overly powerful unions in the company finally consigned it to the grave.

O.A. Group of Companies (April 1957 - December 2003)

By December 2003, the Olympic Airways Group of Companies owned Olympic Airways (Ολυμπιακή Αεροπορία), Olympic Aviation (Ολυμπιακή Αεροπλοϊα), Macedonian Airlines (Μακεδονικές Αερογραμμές), Galileo Hellas (Γαλιλαίος Ελλάς), Olympic Fuel Company (Ολυμπιακή Κοινοπραξία Καυσίμων), Olympic Into-Plane Company. Olympic Catering had been sold a few months earlier. A company formed in the 80's called Olympic Tourist Company (Ολυμπιακή Τουριστική) transformed into Macedonian Airlines.

Present condition of O.A.

The Greek government recently restructured the Olympic Airways Group of Companies. Just like Swissair and Swiss International Airlines, one of the airlines owned by the Group, Macedonian Airlines, was renamed Olympic Airlines and acquired all the logos and trademarks of O.A. including the IATA and ICAO codes (050, OA, OAL). The Greek Government is now negotiating the sale of the 51% of the company. All the other companies of the Group, including Olympic Airways, Galileo Hellas, Olympic Fuel and Handling Services have been integrated in a company named Olympic Airways - Services S.A..

Olympic Airlines Logo

O.A. General Info

- Company Headquarters: 96-100 Syngrou Avenue, 11741 Athens, Greece

- Operates a network consisting of 13 intercontinental destinations, 28 European destinations and 36 domestic destinations.

- Employs 1850 employees approx.

- Maintains a website at www.olympicairlines.com

External links

  • Olympic Airlines Official Website (http://www.olympicairlines.com)
  • Hellenic Ministry of Transportation and Communications (http://www.yme.gr)

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Despite a financially tenuous history, in recent years, Olympic Airways has been stabilised and currently operates an extensive network of flights around the many Greek islands, and to a number of destinations around the world including Dubai and Johannesburg.
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