Monday, December 10, 2012

Aegean Airlines

Aegean Airlines S.A. (Αεροπορία Αιγαίου, IPA: [aeropoˈria eˈʝeu], LSE: 0OHY) is the largest Greek airline by total number of passengers carried. A Star Alliance member since June 2010, it operates scheduled and charter services from Athens and Thessaloniki to other major Greek destinations as well as to a number of European destinations. Its main base is Athens International Airport in Athens, with secondary hubs at Thessaloniki International Airport, "Macedonia", Heraklion International Airport, "Nikos Kazantzakis" and Larnaca International Airport. It has its head office in Kifisia, a suburb of Athens.

In 2009, it carried 6,600,000 passengers surpassing for the first time its rival Olympic Airlines, which carried 5,265,729 passengers. In 2010 Aegean Airlines carried 6,100,000 passengers, of which 50% were foreigners.

In October 21, 2012 Aegean Airlines announced that it had struck a deal to acquire Olympic Air, pending approval by the European Commission. Both carriers would continue to operate under separate brands after the acquisition.
Aegean Airlines was founded as Aegean Aviation in 1987.It was originally a VIP/business air operation specialising in executive and air ambulance services. On 17 February 1992, it became the first airline to be issued with a Greek independent air operator's licence. After it was bought by Vasilakis Group in 1994, Aegean Aviation commenced VIP flights from Athens all over the world with wholly owned Learjet aircraft. The Aegean Airlines name was adopted with the start of scheduled passenger services at the end of May 1999.

Aegean's first commercial flights were from Athens to Heraklion, Crete and Thessaloniki with 2 brand-new wholly owned BAe 146/RJ100. In 1999 Aegean also bought Air Greece. After an agreement in March 2001 to merge Aegean and Cronus Airlines, the company operated for a while as Aegean Cronus Airlines until full integration. Since 2005, the airline has been in partnership with Lufthansa, offering participation in the Miles & More programme, and its flights, in addition to its A3 code also have the Lufthansa LH code.In March 2006, Aegean Airlines also entered into a co-operation agreement with TAP Portugal . In December 2008, Aegean Airlines announced its co-operation with Brussels Airlines.
In 2009, Aegean Airlines started codeshare agreements with; bmi, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa and TAP Portugal.

The airline is owned by Laskaridis Group (25.3%), Vassilakis Group (45.2%), B Konstantakopoulos (8.3%), D Ioannou (8.1%), G David (6.3%) and Piraeus Bank (5.9%) and has 2,300 employees (2009).

On 26 May 2009, Aegean Airlines' membership application was approved by the Chief Executive Board of Star Alliance. Aegean officially joined the alliance on 30 June 2010.
[edit] Attempted merger with Olympic Air
Main article: Olympic Air

In February 2010, initial shareholder discussions took place to consider co-operation between Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air fueling rumours of a possible merger. On 22 February 2010, Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines announced that they agreed to a merger. The newly merged airline was to carry the Olympic brand name and logo, after a transition period in which both airline brands will be used in parallel.The Aegean brand would cease to exist after the transition period. It was expected that the merger would be finalised and the new combined airline would begin operation by October 2010.

Aegean joined Star Alliance at the end of June 2010. The intent was for the merged carrier to be a Star Alliance member, despite the fact that Olympic Air was forging ties with SkyTeam pre-merger.Star Alliance welcomed the proposed merger, releasing a statement stating "The integration teams from both sides will soon meet to assess the necessary steps, in order to guarantee a smooth transition of the merged Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air operations into the Star Alliance network".

On 26 January 2011, the European Commission blocked the merger between the two airlines, citing anti-competition concerns.The commission stated that the merger would have created a "quasi-monopoly" in Greece's air transport market, with the combined airline controlling more than 90% of the Greek domestic air transport market. The EC further stated its belief that the merger would lead to higher fares for four of the six million Greek and European passengers flying to and from Athens each year, with no realistic prospects that a new airline of sufficient size would enter the market to restrain the merged airline's pricing. Additionally, commissioner Joaquin Almunia stated that the merger would have led to higher prices and lower quality of service for Greeks and tourists traveling between Athens and the islands. Both carriers offered remedies in an attempt to ease concerns, though the EU believed that they would not be enough to protect travelers adequately and ease competition concerns. One of the remedies offered by the airlines included ceding takeoff and landing slots at Greek airports, though the commission noted that Greek airports do not suffer from the congestion observed at other European airports in previous airline mergers or alliances.

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