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Greek Ferry Firms on the Verge of Bankruptcy

The future is looking gloomy for many Greek coastal and maritime companies which manage the routes between the islands and the mainland after having accumulated losses of over a billion euros in the past three years (2009-2011).
The future situation for some of these companies right now appears to be extremely severe, also considering that the long awaited Easter surge in passenger travel was not even close to the range of what had been hoped for. The number of people who embarked between Greeks and foreign tourists went down at least 50% compared to the same period of 2011.
Another reason for the drop in ticket sales was the Greek ferry strike on April 11 and 12. Looking at the top four companies, ANEK, Minoan, Lesbos Maritime and Attica Group (all on the stock market), they have suffered losses of 215 million euros only in 2009, rising to 345 million in 2010 and back down to 210 million in 2011.
Last year, many companies managed to limit their losses by transporting Libyan citizens fleeing from the civil war raging in their country. The prospect of failure thus seems to hang more and more over the heads of these companies. The fault does not only lie in the Greek economic crisis, though, but also in the snail paced state bureaucracy. The Greek government in fact owes the ship companies 12 million euros dating back to transport services in 2011.
In the meantime, the maritime sailing industry is finding itself with a series of mounting problems. The ferry services, due to a decreased expenditure by the population in the grip of the crisis is registering losses in ticket sales. If we compare 2011 to the previous year, business went down between 5% to 30% depending on the routes. Fuel prices have also risen in the first quarter of 2012. Oil has gone up to 640 euros per ton compared to last year’s 500. Just this increase could mean that some ship owning companies or firms with fast boats sporting new technology would see a sharp rise in costs of even 30 million euros per year.
Lastly, the banks, who have reduced their financing to maritime companies, are down from 1.76 billion euros in 2004 to 1.02 billion in 2010.
(source: ANSA)

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