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Airline industry woes in Europe  Sep 17, 2008

Greece said on Wednesday it would close Olympic Airlines and relaunch it as a private company, ending years of wrangling with Brussels over the loss-making state airline.

Following is a snapshot of ailing European airlines:


- Once a symbol of Italy's post-war boom, flag carrier Alitalia sought bankruptcy protection on Aug. 29, after nearly two years of seeking a buyer.

- It loses more than 2 million euros a day and had nearly 1.2 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in debt as of July.

- Has for years suffered from political interference, labour disputes and financial woes. The Italian government has a 49.9 percent stake.

- Alitalia's bankruptcy commissioner warned on Wednesday the airline was running out of cash for fuel and flights could be grounded.


- Britain's third largest package holiday operator XL Leisure Group grounded all flights last Friday after going into administration, leaving tens of thousands of holidaymakers stranded. XL said it had been unable to obtain fresh funding after suffering from high fuel prices and the economic downturn.

- XL Airways flew to over 50 destinations and carried 2.3 million passengers last year. It had 1,700 staff worldwide.


- In August, Scandinavian airline SAS outlined fresh cost cuts and revenue measures in an attempt to stem losses. The airline -- half-owned by Sweden, Norway and Denmark -- reported a pre-tax loss of 106 million Swedish crowns ($17 million) in the second quarter. In June, it abandoned plans to sell its loss-making Spanair unit due to tough market conditions. Last week, Germany's Lufthansa said it was in talks to buy SAS.


- SAS-owned Spanair announced it was slashing a third of its workforce when on Aug. 20 a Spanair MD-82 crashed on take-off at Madrid's Barajas airport, killing 154 people on board. In May, Iberia pulled out of the bidding process, citing worsening sector conditions.


- The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said global airlines are set to post losses of $5.2 billion this year and $4.1 billion in 2009 as high oil prices and a global financial crisis weigh.

- IATA estimates higher crude prices will add $91 billion to the global airline fuel bill.

- Air France-KLM, the world's biggest airline by sales, announced on Aug 5 its first-quarter net profit more than halved to 168 million euros ($262 million).

- Days before, British Airways reported an 88 percent crash in first-quarter profit in what the airline called the worst-ever trading conditions.

- Ryanair, Europe's largest low-cost carrier, posted an 85 percent fall in profit at the end of July and warned of a full-year loss if oil prices stayed high.

- Iberia posted a 3.9 million euro operating loss in the second quarter versus a 56.8 million euro profit a year earlier.

Airline industry woes in Europe

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