INVESTIGATION AGAINST ELLINAIR: NEW OWNERS ARE SUCCESSFULLY STEALING EU AID
Not long ago, the passenger airline ELLINAIR S.A. (Greece) has announced the upcoming resumption of flights. However, the facts obtained by the editors of the BLACKLIST.AERO Register prove that all the public activity of recent weeks and news about the upcoming restart are needed to the new owners only in order to receive a new tranche of aid from the European Commission. And this tranche will be stolen in the same way as the first. ELLINAIR is not going to fly anywhere.
The company’s problems began during Covid period, when a huge part of the passenger fleet was grounded for many months. The lack of tourist flow to Greece has put ELLINAIR on the brink of survival. Most of the staff found themselves in forced downtime. Debts for aircraft leasing, airworthiness maintenance programs, bills for previously provided handling services and fuel became impossible to pay for from subsequent flights.
Fully ELLINAIR went into a tailspin after the death of its founder and beneficiary Boris Mouzenidis. The lessor took away aircraft due to long-term non-payments in the amount of more than 12 million US dollars. Taking into account debts on salaries, insurance, provision of handling services, refueling for already operated flights, as well as debts from EUROCONTROL and AIRBUS WORLD, the total outstanding of ELLINAIR airline amounted to more than 27 million Euro. The airline’s AOC has been suspended.
For a long time the company was in a state close to final closure. Until, finally, the company had a new owner, Kostantinos Vardakis. This businessman has never had anything to do with aviation. But he developed strong relationships with people from the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
It quickly became clear that Kostas Vardakis was not going to invest his own money in ELLINAIR. But he promised the company’s employees that he would achieve the allocation of EU aid, which some European airlines that suffered from covid restrictions received.
“And then all problems will be solved, all salary debts will be paid, and ELLINAIR will begin to fly!” The airline’s employees were fed with such promises for many months. But here, the long-awaited tranche of EU aid in the amount of 6.8 million euros was received in the summer of 2022! And what happened after that?
Salary debts have not yet been paid! Moreover, when disillusioned employees began to leave the company en masse and demand salary compensation through the courts, ELLINAIR lawyers immediately got involved in the case. They offered to pay off salary debts...in the amount of 30% of the real debt and then part ways amicably.
And, despite the fact that a group of former airline employees, pushed over the brink by lack of money, eventually accepted this unfair offer, salaries have not yet been paid.
At the same time, the story with numerous creditors continued. Year ago, having received the first tranche of EU aid, the new management of ELLINAIR determined that they were ready to pay only 10-30% of the debt amount. And only if the rest of the debt is officially written off. And this despite the fact that before receiving the tranche, they promised to pay all debts in full and tearfully asked to “wait a little longer.”
According to our information, the overwhelming majority of creditors refused such a “generous offer”.
And just last week, some of the creditors received very strange so-called audit data from ELLINAIR, which they were asked to sign. According to these data, the amount of debt of ELLINAIR airline to creditors is 0. I didn’t make a mistake - zero!
That is, according to ELLINAIR’s internal reporting, the company does not owe anyone anything! Why was this done, you ask? To give a final answer to this question, I will give one more fact: ELLINAIR signed an LOI for leasing the A-319. Which would seem to confirm the fact that the company intends to resume flights. However, when it was necessary to pay the first two months of leasing payments, ELLINAIR simply disappeared.
The information we received from employees of this company who resigned and filed a lawsuit against it indicates that the new owner of the company does not plan to resume flights in the near future.
Moreover, when we compared data provided by former ELLINAIR employees and a number of interviewed creditors, we came to much more alarming conclusions. Let’s start from the facts:
Fact 1 Currently, the number of employees who quit or were dismissed without payment of salaries is more than 50 people. The company did not call anyone back to work. And these are pilots, flight attendants, ground staff (engineers and dispatchers). That is, those without whom flights cannot be carried out.
Fact 2 The new owners of ELLINAIR not only failed to repay (at least partially) the debt to creditors, but also falsified internal reporting, which now states that they don’t have debts.
Fact 3 The company found an aircraft that was officially obliged to be leased after paying the lease payments. However, ELLINAIR did not pay the deposit.
Question: Why then all this mumbo-jumbo with the search for the plane and the press release distributed through a couple of aviation media (but so that not many people read it) about the upcoming resumption of activities???
The answer will appear on the surface when we take into account one more fact. Last year, ELLINAIR received the FIRST part of EU aid, in the amount of 6.8 million euros. And now they are claiming to receive the SECOND part in the amount of more than 2 million euros.
The conclusions of the BLACKLIST.AERO editors are as follows:
The first part of the EU aid was misused. Simply put, it was stolen. Now, in order to receive another part of European aid, the owners of ELLINAIR and its management need to show that the debts have been repaid and a new aircraft is about to arrive. And in general, everything is fine – here’s a press release as proof!
What is happening at ELLINAIR is a real fraud. We ask that this article be considered a CRIME REPORT. We ask the European Commission officials responsible for allocating aid to ELLINAIR airlines to perform detailed audit of the spending of the first tranche of EU aid.
The editors of the Global Aviation Register of Defaulter companies BLACKLIST.AERO are ready to provide all the information they have at the disposal of the investigative authorities.