Olympic Air emerged from the rouble of Greece’s national carrier Olympic Airways which went bankrupt in 2009. Olympic Air continues to use Olympic Airway’s OA IATA code and six ring logo. In 2012 Olympic Air was purchased by its main Greek competitor Aegean Airlines after a merger plan was blocked by EU competition regulators. Both airlines continue as separate entities. Olympic Air is a mere shadow of its former incarnation, Olympic Airways which dated its founding to 1930. Olympic Airways once spanned the globe from Australia to Canada. It operated freight, catering, engineering and ground services subsidiaries. In the 1990’s Olympics’ debts began to mount and accountants began to restructure and hide the problem until 2008 when the airline had sunk €2 billion into the red. Olympic Air was relaunched on a much reduced scale minus the debt. Like the country whose flag it flies, the airline has not performed well.
Olympic Air flights are typically short hops between Greek cities or neighbouring countries, so staff have few opportunities to deliver much service. However crew are dressed nicely and Olympic Air did not inherit many of the sour faced old-timers who terrorised passengers during Olympic Airways long-haul flights.
Even since its relaunch in 2009 Olympic Air’s international network has rapidly shrunk. They operate two hubs; Athens and . Generally the airline targets the domestic Greek market however they do also fly to destinations in Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Turkey and their longest route is to Bucharest in Romania. There seems no practical reason why international travellers should go out of their way to book this airline considering the inadequacy of their network and averageness of the experience.
Travelling in recession-hit Greece can be cheap, but Olympic Air is never the cheapest. They might like to think of themselves as better than rivals, but superior competitors are typically available at the same or cheaper prices.
Olympic Air serve tea, coffee and water for free and snacks on longer flights. Junk food snacks are available for sale from crew, but don’t expect anything fresh or exciting.
Olympic Air has a nice magazine called On Air. The pages of this magazine provide a surreal view of Greece as an idyllic playground for the rich and vain. No hint of economic meltdown can be found in its 100+ pages.
Greek baggage handlers once had a reputation for thieving luggage and mishandling it. It would be nice to think those days are gone. However Olympic Air routes are generally short so are point to point. If passengers are connecting to code-share airlines luggage is transferred in a leisurely fashion. Don’t expect sincerely from staff when baggage goes missing, which continues to occur at a rate which would be considered unacceptable in most Asian countries. Economy passengers get 20kg and Premium Economy travellers get 5kg more.
Olympic Air has a Premium Economy service targeted at business travellers. There really is very little difference between the two. Premium passengers sit at the front and get offered drinks more frequently; that’s it. Like its long distance flights, Business Class was axed.
An Olympic Air flight is an indifferent experience. Aircraft are new and crew are dressed nicely. Baggage allowance is minimal and the overall travelling experience is highly forgettable.
Olympic Air’s Travelair Club is a pointless exercise joining unless you are a regular Greek business traveller flying around domestically. Delta Air passengers can earn points with Olympic Air, so given the greater utility of a Delta membership it seems a better idea to join Delta when flying Olympic Air. A Travelair Club membership can however also earn points on non air travel services.
Olympic Airways was possibly the most corrupt and incompetent airline in Europe until its 2009 demise. Fortunately for Olympic Air, most of its dead wood was left behind and a new start was made, however managers still seem unable to turn this business into a profitable one. Olympic Air’s new owner, Aegean Airlines is better managed, but this is no Emirates airlines or Lufthansa!
Olympic Air’s fleet is made up of newer Canadian built Bombardier Dash 8’s and Airbus A319’s. Both have a good safety record and the planes are well maintained by third party contractors. Olympic Air has operated without major incident.
Olympic Air is a very very average airline and seldom the best choice. Shop around.
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