ATHENS, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- Greek carrier Aegean Airlines on Monday announced its acquisition of rival Olympic Air for 72 million euros (94 million U.S. dollars) in a move to create the biggest airline in debt-ridden Greece.
Under the agreement, which needs to be cleared by competition authorities, Aegean will control 100 percent of Olympic Air, the former national carrier bought by Marfin Investment Fund in 2009.
In 2010, a planned merger between Aegean and Olympic Air was blocked by the European Commission on monopoly grounds.
According to press releases on Monday, the carriers will maintain their names, logos, fleet, staff and current operations. The new carrier will have a total of 50 aircrafts (21 for Olympic and 29 for Aegean) flying to 115 domestic and international destinations.
According to estimates, Aegean had revenues of 668.2 million euros in 2011 compared to 240.5 million euros for Olympic.
"Aegean and Olympic Air have invested over the past two years 2 billion euros in new aircrafts and operations, offering Greeks and foreign visitors an excellent level of services, acknowledged with significant international awards," Aegean's President Theodoros Vassilakis said.
Vassilakis added both airlines had suffered losses due to the financial crisis and their small size compared to other international carriers. The merger would benefit shareholders, employees, the Greek state and customers who could be offered better prices, he argued.
Marfin Investment Fund CEO Efthymios Bouloutas said without the proposed take over, there was an increased risk that the Greek tourism industry would be forced to depend on foreign carriers with major long-term losses for the Greek state.
Aegean and Olympic said they pay some 270 million euros annually in various taxes to the Greek state, which since 2009 has been struggling to counter a sovereign debt crisis threatening the country with a catastrophic default and an exit from the eurozone.