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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-01-06

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 06/01/1999 (ANA)


  • Problems continue at Olympic Airways
  • Three die in gypsy feud
  • Smugglers get heavy sentences
  • Sailing ban lifted
  • Fishing strike continues
  • Fire at cotton gin causes extensive damage
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Problems continue at Olympic Airways

There was little hope on Wednesday of an end to the hardships endured by travellers using the national carrier Olympic Airways after talks between OA management and pilots failed to resolve the latest crisis to hit the airline.

OA pilots are refusing to work overtime to press their demands, which include the hiring of more flight personnel - a move which has caused cancellations and long delays to domestic and international flights.

An announcement released by OA management after the talks on Tuesday night said the pilots were now putting forward financial demands that the company could not afford and which, if satisfied, would violate provisions of the ongoing five-year restructuring plan.

Pilots' representatives meanwhile described as a "mockery" the proposals put forward by OA management in an effort to resolve the impasse.

National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said in a radio interview on Tuesday that the government was determined to press ahead with plans to find a strategic partner and establish cooperation with private interests, adding that this was the only solution which could save the national carrier.

Acknowledging that the situation was becoming more difficult, Papantoniou called for "the active cooperation" of all parties involved and declined to make further statements saying he did not want to "add fuel to the fire".

Three die in gypsy feud

Police on Wednesday were searching for a gypsy after three people died and a fourth was seriously injured when a family feud ended in a shootout in the western port city of Patras.

The gunbattle took place on Tuesday afternoon when two of the victims, gypsies Manolis Karachalios, 70 and his wife, Eleftheria, 73 were involved in a violent quarrel with the wanted man - their son-in-law, Vangelis Christou.

Alexis Christou, 17, the grandson of Manolis Karachalios, died in the shootout, while Manolis Christou, 40, Vangelis' brother, was seriously injured and is being treated at St. Andrew's Hospital in Patras.

Smugglers get heavy sentences

A Kos court on Wednesday sentenced two Greeks and a Yugoslavian each to ten years' imprisonment and a fine of 3.5 million drachmas after finding them guilty of ferrying illegal immigrants to Greece in a boat which sank off the island of Nissyros.

The three crew members of the Italian-flagged "Mustang" were among those rescued when the vessel sank in icy waters about 7 miles from Nissyros on December 31.

About 10 people are presumed to have drowned and 24 were rescued.

The two Greeks sentenced were Iosif Tsagarakis and Constantine Logothetis, and the Yugoslavian, Ifet Cosovic.

The Mustang sailed from the Turkish coast late at night on December 30. The exact number of illegal immigrants on the boat has still not been established.

Sailing ban lifted

Ferryboat sailings resumed on Wednesday morning from the ports of Piraeus and Rafina to destinations in the Aegean islands, Crete and the Dodecanese following an improvement in weather conditions.

A sailing ban was imposed at midday on Tuesday because of gale force winds in the Aegean.

Fishing strike continues

Trawler owners on Tuesday decided to continue to strike in protest against a European Union directive, following a meeting at Nea Michaniona, Thessaloniki earlier in the day.

The fishermen are protesting EU Directive 1626 which effectively reduces the distance from the coast in which fishing is permitted and increases the mesh size of nets.

At Tuesday's meeting, members of the Panhellenic Union of Trawler Owners decided not to go out fishing Tuesday and on Thursday to moor their boats in protest along the Thessaloniki seafront, as they did on Monday.

The feast of the Ephiphany today is a national holiday.

On Thursday, the leadership of the Agriculture Ministry is expected to meet with union representatives. The vice-president of the trawler owners' union, Theodosis Maritsas, told the ANA that if the meeting ended without result, the members would step up their labour action, possibly using their vessels to blockade ports around the country.

Trawler owners claim the provision of the directive stipulating a larger mesh for nets will result in a 50 per cent reduction in catches, since smaller fish will slip through, while Turkish trawlers will continue to catch those fish and channel them to the Greek market.

The Panhellenic Union of Trawler Owners numbers over 190 members who own approximately 150 trawlers that supply all the fishmarkets of the country.

Fire at cotton gin causes extensive damage

A fire which broke out for as yet unknown reasons early Wednesday morning caused damage estimated at 6 billion drachmas to a cotton gin plant near the village of Achillio, central Greece.

Eight fire engines were used in the battle against the blaze at the VIOLAR S.A. plant on the old Larissa-Volos national road before it was finally brought under control after nearly eight hours at noon.

According to initial estimates, 45,000 bales of cotton, each weighing 230 kilos and worth a total 5 billion drachmas, were destroyed in the blaze.

The main plant installations - valued at 1 billion drachmas - were also destroyed.

The fire brigade managed to save an adjacent covered warehouse area occupying 10,000 square metres.


Mostly fine weather is expected throughout the country Thursday, with local clouds in the east. Temperatures will rise slightly.


Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 272.731 Pound sterling 451.618 Japanese yen (100) 245.580 French franc 49.127 German mark 164.764 Italian lira (100) 16.643 Irish Punt 409.175 Belgian franc 7.988 Finnish mark 54.199 Dutch guilder 146.231 Danish kr. 43.251 Austrian sch. 23.419 Spanish peseta 1.937 Swedish kr. 34.272 Norwegian kr. 36.690 Swiss franc 199.585 Port. Escudo 1.607 Aus. dollar 169.632 Can. dollar 178.560 Cyprus pound 553.536


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