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State aid: The Commission endorses the revised privatisation plan for Olympic Airlines and Olympic Airways Services

Commission Européenne - IP/09/374   10/03/2009

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IP/09/374

Brussels, 10 March 2009

State aid: The Commission endorses the revised privatisation plan for Olympic Airlines and Olympic Airways Services

The Commission has today decided that the revised privatisation plan for Olympic Airlines and Olympic Airways Services does not raise State aid concerns. The original privatisation plan, which had been approved by the Commission on 17 September 2008, was based on an open, transparent and non-discriminatory public tender procedure. However, given the financial and economic crisis, the tender process was not successful. The Greek authorities have now pursued the sale by direct negotiation with interested parties, in compliance with EC law

In its previous decision[1] of 17 September 2008, the Commission had found that the plan of the Greek authorities to sell certain assets of Olympic Airlines and Olympic Airways Services prior to the liquidation of the two companies did not involve State aid, provided that certain undertakings given by the Greek authorities were fully complied with.

The Commission had also considered that the planned privatisation would maximise the chances of recovery of illegal and incompatible State aid that had previously been granted to Olympic Airlines and Olympic Airways Services.

In accordance with the Commission decision of 17 September 2008, the Greek authorities launched a public tender procedure. All of the bids were below the minimum values established by an independent valuation, mainly due to the financial and economic crisis.

Given this situation, the Greek authorities informed the Commission that the only way now open to implement the Commission decision of 17 September 2008 was to proceed with a direct sale of the assets.

In today's decision, the Commission considered that the revised privatisation plan does not give rise to State aid concerns. Firstly, under State aid rules the Commission and the Member States must work together in good faith to overcome unforeseen or unforeseeable difficulties encountered in executing recovery decisions. Secondly, the Greek authorities have so far complied with the Commission decision of 17 September 2008. Thirdly, the direct sale facilitates a faster conclusion of the sale of the privatisation of Olympic Airlines’ and Olympic Airways Services’ assets than re-tendering the assets, while ensuring market price for the transactions. Finally, the direct sale is expected to ensure the continued provision of routes subject to public service obligations, thereby protecting residents of outlying islands from possible disruptions to air services.


[1] See IP/08/1336, 17 September 2008


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