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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsAristotle Onassis' Historic Olympic Airways Plane Displayed in Athens

Aristotle Onassis’ Historic Olympic Airways Plane Displayed in Athens

Onassis Olympic
Aristotle Onassis descends from an Olympic Airways Boeing in the early ’70s. Public Domain

The beloved plane of the late Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis, an Olympic Airways Boeing 747, was recently moved to a permanent place at Hellinikon, the former airport of Athens now being transformed into the largest metropolitan park in Greece.

Earlier in the week, the “OLYMPIC EAGLE” (SX-OAB) was moved next to the main building of the old Athens Airport (referred to as the East Terminal) created by the world-renowned Finnish-born American architect Eero Saarinen.

He had already gained international recognition for the original and elegant expressionism of the TWA passenger terminal in New York and the Dulles International Airport near Washington, DC.

The Saarinen building was inaugurated in 1969, the same year that Aristotle Onassis placed the order with Boeing for this aircraft. This is also the reason why we called it “The Airplane of Aristotle Onassis.”

Lamda Development, the developers of Hellinikon, honored an agreement signed in May 2023 with the Cultural Center of Olympic Aviation Employees to showcase the historic aircraft.

History of Olympic Airways from Onassis to the final flight

In July 1956, the Greek State signed an agreement with Onassis, for the exclusive use of air transport in Greece. On April 6, 1957, the company was renamed Olympic Airways. The first domestic flight started the same year. Generally, Olympic had an upswing on a domestic and international level, as well.

In addition, in 1971, a subsidiary airline, Olympic Aviation, was established to serve the Greek islands more economically and efficiently, and flights were expanded globally.

In 1972, Olympic turned to the important Greece-Australia market, beginning Boeing 707–320 operations between Athens and Sydney twice a week via Bangkok and Singapore.

In 1973, the death of Onassis’ son, Alexander, in a plane crash shocked Greek people, and a new phase began for Olympic Airways. A few months later, Onassis sold all of the OA shares to the Greek state and died in 1975.

The year of 1976 was a landmark year in the history of Olympic. The airline passed into Greek government’s dominance. The same year, the firm obtained the first Boeing 737-200 and created Olympic Catering. Twenty-five aircraft and thirty international destinations were served.

From December 1977 until January 1978, there was the biggest strike ever in the history of Olympic, lasting thirty-five days. The main reasons for the strike were the creation of labor regulations, crew composition, and new wage. This prolonged strike had a pleasant end for employees.

The beginning of the 1980s found Olympic facing more strikes, which sought to implement regulation flights and improve economic earnings. In 1982, the airline celebrated twenty-five years of operation.

In the early 1990s, the staff had picked up Sundays, holidays, and night itineraries. However on October 4th, bloody incidents unfolded between strikers and redundant and riot police outside the building of Olympic Catering.

On March 28, 2001, the airline made its last flight, from the Hellinikon airport for Thessaloniki.

On December 31, 2009, Olympic Airlines ceased all operations, as flights to Greek islands had already been allocated and were being flown by other carriers. Flights to destinations outside of the European Union had been allocated to other carriers, which began operating them from January 1, 2010.

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