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Athens reportedly considers return of hydroplanes
- 7 May, 2011
Italian newspaper La Stampa suggested on Friday that the Greek government is considering bringing back hydroplane travel to Aegean destinations as part of its effort to improve its finances.
The report argued that Athens will soon auction off operating licenses for routes to the islands.
Air traffic staff threaten Easter strike - 11 April, 2011
Union wants government to pay more than three months in outstanding wages
Air traffic controllers on Monday threatened to stage rolling strikes over the Orthodox Easter period later this month – action that would seriously disrupt air travel – in protest at the non-payment of more than three months of outstanding wages since December.
Speaking to Skai television on Monday morning, Vassilis Alevizopoulos, the president of the Federation of Civil Aviation Authority Unions (OSYPA), said he had called on Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis to ensure that the workers receive the three-and-a-half months in outstanding pay for night shifts.
If authorities fail to satisfy the union's demands, Alevizopoulos said, workers will stop working night shifts and boycott public holidays and Sundays until the end of the year. Alevizopoulos said that the issue of the outstanding wages of air traffic controllers - who are civil servants - was a longstanding one and said the government owed staff an immediate solution to their problem.
Despite the repercussions of the economic crisis on household budgets, thousands of Greeks have booked flights for domestic or international routes for Orthodox Easter which falls on Sunday April 24 this year.
Tourist arrivals seen jumping 10 percent - 4 April, 2011
The number of tourists expected to visit Greece this year is seen increasing by 10 percent compared to last year, with growth coming from Russia, the UK and Germany, according to Andreas Andreadis, president of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers.
However, the number of Greeks going on holiday within the country is expected to see a double-digit drop due to the crisis, Andreadis told Kathimerini, reducing income in the sector by 3 to 4 percent.
Earthquake measuring 6.2 Richter shakes Crete - 2 April, 2011
An undersea quake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scales occurred some 120 kilometers off the Cretan port of Iraklio, shortly before 4.30 p.m. on Friday, seismologists said.
The earthquake was strong but its epicenter was some 77 kilometers deep and caused minor damage on the island. Reports said it was felt by residents of the Egyptian capital of Cairo.
Gyros of Greece an appetizing prospect
Cycling in this country is happy to welcome back Greece's answer to the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana, as the Gyros Elladas is returning this month for its 17th edition after six years.
The international race will start from Ioannina on April 13 and end in Athens four days later.
According to organizers, it will feature some of the world's top teams and cyclists and try to raise the profile of the sport in Greece after its having spent the last few years in the wilderness. It also forms part of the European cycling calendar.
The 17th Gyros Elladas, not to be confused with the country's traditional fast-food staple, will consist of 728 kilometers in five stages: Stage 1 on April 13, from Ioannina through Dodoni to Preveza (140 km); Stage 2 on April 14, from Preveza to Mesolongi (120 km); Stage 3 on April 15, from Mesolongi to Delphi (150 km); Stage 4 on April 16, from Delphi to Marathon (178 km); and Stage 5 on April 17, from Marathon to Athens, including a 10-round race in the historic center of the capital (120 km).
Greece's national team will participate in the event, as well as a total of 20 local and foreign professional teams. The teams that have registered for the race hail from Austria, Germany, France, Romania, the Netherlands, Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Hong Kong, Bulgaria and Turkey.
Among those eyeing the winner's blue jersey will be top Greek cyclist Yiannis Tamouridis, who will however not be racing with the national team but with SP Tableware, a professional team.
"The Gyros will feature some of the best cyclists in Europe,» said Tamouridis.
"Competition will be intense as all athletes will need to do their best to get victory. It is very important that Greek cycling is back on the front stage as the absence of the Gyros was a dark spot for the sport in this country.
"Greece and its cycling will be at the center of attention on the days of the Gyros and with the appropriate support by the local authorities and coverage by the media it will get the prestige of the respective tours in other countries,» argued the 31-year-old, who has his sights set on the 2012 London Olympics.
The Gyros Elladas was first organized in 1968, when it was known as the Antiquities Trophy.
Large cash transactions illegal as of Friday - 29 March, 2011
Large sized cash transactions will be illegal as of Friday as the government forces the payment of all goods and services above 3,000 euros to be completed by credit card or bank cheque in a bid to stamp out tax evasion.
The restriction on cash transactions will offer the Finance Ministry more effective on-line monitoring of business revenues and taxes payable.
The 3,000 euro limit will drop to 1,500 euros as of January 1, 2012.
Ryanair to launch Crete flight link with Frankfurt, Milan - 26 March, 2011
Irish budget carrier Ryanair will launch routes linking Hania, on the island of Crete, with Frankfurt's Hahn and Milan's Bergamo as of May, helping provide a boost to the local tourism market.
"Ryanair...will provide Italian, German and Greek consumers with even more low fares on this route this summer, which will deliver 60,000 passengers per year and create up to 60 local jobs (in Crete),' said Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara in statement.
Greece to let bases be used for NATO operations in Libya - 18 March, 2011
Athens unwilling to commit forces to military operations but will help with back up
Athens will let NATO forces use military bases in Greece for operations in Libya after the United Nations approved the imposition of a no-fly zone over the North African country, the government appeared to decide on Friday.
Sources said that following a meeting between Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos and consultation with Prime Minister George Papandreou, it was decided that Greece would not take part in any military operations but would be willing to provide support for humanitarian needs or to help patrol the Mediterranean to ensure arms are not smuggled into Libya.
Greece, however, does appear willing to allow NATO forces to use bases in the country to be used for operations in Libya, where Colonel Muammar Gadhafi's forces have been pushing back pro-democracy rebels over the past few days before announcing a ceasefire yesterday.
The two options for NATO if it wishes to use bases in Greece are at Aktio in the west of the country, where AWACS aircraft that carry long-range radars can take off from, or at Souda in Crete. Two US KC-135 planes, known as Stratotankers, which are used for midair refueling, are already at Souda, as is an American C-130 plane and a French C-160 cargo plane. The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge docked at the naval base in northwestern Crete on March 18. Some 400 US Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina arrived a few days earlier. There are also two US tankers and a French minesweeper in Souda.
"We are ready to contribute, in cooperation with our partners and allies, to the effort of ensuring that international law is respected," said Droutsas, who added that the international community was correct to allow the use of "any means necessary" to protect civilians.
The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the Communist Party expressed concern about Greek forces being involved in any military operations or forces in Greece being used.
However, Droutsas's comments suggest that Athens, which has traditionally had good relations with Gadhafi's regime, was encouraging a nonviolent solution. "Greece believes that everyone's goal should be to solve the crisis in Libya, to restore stability and to ensure the smooth transition to democracy through a wide dialogue between the groups representing the country's people," he said.
Economy contracts 6.6 pct; consumption plunges - 18 March, 2011
Plunging private consumption drove the economy deeper into recession in the last quarter of 2010, according to provisional data provided by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).
ELSTAT said on Friday that Greece's gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 6.6 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2010, versus a drop of 5.1 percent in the third quarter.
Private consumption, a key component of the Greek economy, fell 8.6 percent to 39.7 billion euros in the last quarter of 2010, ELSTAT added which means that households spent 1.6 billion euros less than a year earlier.
Investment activity dropped 7.6 percent, pegged back by weak business sentiment and uncertainty over the sovereign debt crisis.
The only bright spot came from exports, which rose 12.8 percent year-on-year to 11.7 billion euros.
US troops and ships arrive in Crete with eye on Libya - 5 March, 2011
Calls grow for move to establish no-fly zone over North African country
American troops and ships have begun arriving in Souda Bay, Crete, as calls grow to establish a "no-fly zone" over Libya, where Colonel Moammar Gadhafi's regime is trying to push back rebels who have taken control of many parts of the North African country.
The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge docked at the US naval base in northwestern Crete on Friday morning. Some 400 US Marines from the 2nd Marine Expdetionary Unit based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina arrived at Souda Bay earlier in the week.
Base spokesman Paul Farley told the Associated Press that the troops have been deployed "as part of the contingency planning to provide the president [Barack Obama] flexibility on the full range of options regarding Libya."
Washington has so far been ambivalent on the idea of using military force to establish a "no-fly zone" but Britain and France backed the idea on Friday.
Easyjet to launch Athens-Edinburgh flight link - 26 February, 2011
EasyJet announced on Thursday that it will start a flight linking Edinburgh with Athens, the only direct air route between the two cities, in September.
"We are responding to customer demand, providing an even greater choice of city, sun and ski destinations from Edinburgh," Hugh Aitken, easyJet's commercial manager for Scotland, said in a statement.
Easyjet will also launch new flights linking Scotland's capital with Tenerife and Grenoble.
The three times weekly service to Athens commences on September 20.
Competition watchdog keeps eye on kiosks in Crete - 18 February, 2011
The Competition Commission is keeping an eye on kiosks in Crete for signs of price fixing after the retailers decided to up the retail cost of cigarettes, possibly triggering more price hikes on everyday goods.
Kiosk owners on Greece's largest island have decided to ignore recommended retail prices marked on cigarettes and up prices by 0.10 euros per packet on the grounds that their profit margin has diminished due to repeated tax hikes. A packet of cigarettes normally costs between 3.80 euros to 4 euros.
'The commission monitors developments in the market and intervenes when necessary,' a source from the competitions watchdog told Kathimerini English Edition on Wednesday.
Repeated tax hikes on tobacco products delivered as part of austerity measures promised in exchange for a 110-billion-euro EU-IMF loan last year has reduced kiosk's profit margins to 3.6 percent, from 7.5 percent a year ago, argue the retailers.
Higher prices have also had a negative impact on the amount of cigarettes sold, which make up 70 to 80 percent of kiosk revenues, they add.
Kiosk owners in Thessaloniki have also decided to increase the price of cigarettes, local press reported on Wednesday.
Athens hotels may rebound in 2011 - 2 February, 2011
The Athens-Attica Hotel Association said on Tuesday that 2011 could be a year where the industry will see a rebound in occupancy rates, which having been continuously falling in the capital for the last three years.
"We have the strong belief that 2011 could be a year where we see a rebound. We believe that under certain conditions, such as restoration of the image of central Athens, it could be a positive year as far as occupancy rates are concerned," the president of the association, Yiannis Retsos, said in a statement.
Data provided by the group showed that occupancy rates for five-star hotels in Athens fell to 54.9 percent in 2010 from 57 percent in 2009 and 64.3 percent in 2008. Occupancy rates for three-star hotels also dropped, to 64.6 percent last year from 74.7 percent in 2008.
Once upon a time in a Cretan village
Multinational group has set up a storytelling association in a rural location
"For years I dreamed of bringing new life to an ancient place that seemed to be fading away," writes Stella Kassimati, chair of the Friends of Amari organization. The desire to breathe fresh air into a forgotten place as well as tradition explains why this group of Greek, English, Irish, Scottish, Dutch, French and Americans decided to set up a storytelling association in a rural Cretan location. [...]
Full story: Kathimerini