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Wednesday, September 14, 2005 

R.I.P. Olympic Airlines

Olympic Groundlines

The College of Commissioners in Brussels handed down a 568 million euro decision against Olympic Airlines which could mean the end of Greece's national air carrier. OA was investigated and found liable for receiving illegal grants from the State and has been ordered to repay it all. Considering that the State is already trying to unload the cash-strapped airline, this decision will make it near impossible to do so meaning that 1,850 jobs are in jeopardy. (Other sources put the number at 7,000,) Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said that no Olympic employees would be left jobless. "This will be achieved either through a voluntary retirement program or through employees being transferred to other civil sector jobs,'' he said. How wonderful. The same employees will be moved on to other jobs where they will no doubt bring their vast experience of inferior work ethics to expedite the decay of the Greek (un)civil (dis)service.

Karanmanlis' statement did not reassure union officials who have called both PASOK and the current government "murderers" who won't get away with it.

The State's corrupt and bureaucratic management of OA are largely to blame but so, too, are the employees themselves as the following experiences from passengers attest to this fact. Since the State bought out OA, it was abused by them as a cost-free carrier for friends and family and as an employment provider in return for political favours. 25 years later, the free ride has come to an end. Unfortunately, Greek citizens have lost not only their tax dollars, they've lost their national airline as well which was one of the safest in Europe.

**All quotes taken from http://www.airlinequality.com/Forum/olymp.htm)

I have flown with Olympic several times but never again.

it was an excellent airline back when it was privately owned by Onassis, and when it had just made its debut as "Olympic" (from the old T.A.E.)

About the only thing that was nice was the headsets they provided.

I regret the day I heard of Olympic.

One of the worst flight experiences I have had.

Very old plane (A300), very mediocre service, unfriendly hostesses, food for a third world airline! ... Olympic airways does not honour the name it carries.

The experience was quite awful.

there was nothing efficient or particularly pleasant about it.

Without doubt, these were the worst flights I have ever taken irrespective of class of cabin.

I have never felt that uncomfortable on a flight. It looked like the interior hadn't been cleaned for twenty years.

the services were minimal, the food was very low quality, the toilets were disgustingly dirty and smelly (one was not even flushing).

The staff both ground and in flight were equally rude. ...shoddy, shoddy, shoddy.

The planes in most cases are old and simply horrible! The crew unpleasant and not willing to help! ...the truth is that Olympic is a third world experience!

We were greatly disappointed by the service and the unprofessional attitude of the cabin crew. ...This was the worst trip we ever had.

I have flown Olympic Airways several times and I have found that the cabin staff on every flight has been with out exception incompetent and rude. As a Greek living in the United States and Canada I suggest not to fly Olympic Airways, if you have the choice.

My experiences on Olympic have always been mediocre to outright horrific.

Never again will I fly Olympic. The only good thing about Olympic was the good food, but the staff were very rude and spent most of their time smoking in the room at the back. It was the longest 22 hours I have had in my life.

Seawitch,

I find OA similar to other European airlines (for example, I refer to SAS as Sassy Airlines). Though I live in the US, I was born in Europe, have citizenship, I think I can accurately say OA is somewhat typical of European service in my opinion, though a bit on the extreme end.

Times I've travelled to Europe with Americans on their first visit, I've always been amused by their impression of rude service (which I just find normal for Europe), particularly in restaurants. On a side note, an American friend of mine lived in Paris for a while and worked as a waittress. Unlike the other waiters and waittresses, she raked in huge tips. When asked about her secret, her response was "I talk to my customers and am very friendly." I just crack up as that never dawned on her co-workers.

Kosta

Well, I never had the (dis)pleasure of flying Olympic airlines, as I haven't left the country since moving here and prefer to take a boat, train or car to flying. =p

Today was not a good day for airlines all over the world, it seems.

Still, 7000 people forced into civil service jobs? Yeeshk. They better get their "improvements" working soon...

Well I've had the pleasure of flying Olympic Airways many times. They actually are a personal preference of mine. Olympic has changed in recent years and the inflight service isn't bad. It's one of the few airlines who offer a full hot meal and desert on flights between Greece and the UK. I was flying back to Greece on OA a couple of years ago in February. We landed in Athens and the outside temp was 2oC. But of course all the passengers stood up and were all trying to get off the plane first. I had my coat over my arm and was walking in the line. I got to the front and the stewardess grabbed hold of me and pulled me into the galley. She started telling me off for not wearing my coat and said she would not let me leave until I put my coat and scalf on. If fact she put it on me while she was complaining. Now that little act actually makes the point that not OA staff fall into the stereotypical image that people complain about.

Personally I hope they manage to find some kind of solution for Olympic. It'll be a really sad day if they stop flying. It'll mean it's the second Greek airline to close down this year (anyone remember Hellas Jet?).

As for OA, they are saying on NET that it could be 'sold' (the name and aircraft) and the buyer could be the Greek state.

Er... that's almost as dodgy as when Olympic Airways closed down and one minute later Olympic Airlines was born. The EU weren't impressed then, I'm sure if they try it again. Greece will really be in trouble.

I have had the displeasure of flying on Olympic while on vacation in Greece. We flew from Athens to Mykonos to Santorini to Crete, then back to Athens...so yeah, I got my fill! The plane had holes and rips in all the seats, very cramped, not to mention the fact that our pilot made such a sharp turn over the ocean that all the tourists were getting those "this is the end" looks! I was thinking that if we were going to die, at least my last view was Fira at dusk.

Sounds like we must have been on the same flight Sappho! I've travelled with Olympic twice if not 3 times and each and every time it's been awful. Dirty planes, long walks on the tarmac (do they even PAY airport taxes to get a gate to themselves??) delayed flights, and absolutely rude flight attendants keep me flying on any other airline rather than be subjected to OA's special brand of misery. When my sister flew on OA to Athens a couple of years back, the flight attendant took her Vanity Fair magazine and claimed it was OA's "in-flight" magazine! Well, at least now they have one in-flight magazine to share amongst their dwindling passengers. (BTW, welcome to my blog.)

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