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Patmos island to be next hydroplane stop June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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Hydroplanes will reach more and more Greek islands as the summer progresses, while more aircraft will be delivered soon, according to the single operating company AirSea Lines.

Next month the new means of transportation across the Aegean Sea, hydroplanes, are setting course for the island of Patmos, in addition to their numerous daily destinations. The first flights conducted by AirSea Lines were on May 16 from Lavrion to the Aegean Islands and the company intends to expand its services to more islands.

The recent signing by the Ministers for Merchant Marine and Transport for the creation of 26 new hydroports seems to be accelerating the expansion of hydroplane flights. The average time before the new hydroports begin operatation is about two months from now, depending on the peculiarities of each area. AirSea Lines attributes particular significance to the islands that do not have airports, as those which depend only on coastal shipping are expected to show greater demand for hydroplanes.

Patmos residents and local authorities have already shown great enthusiasm as they often have problems traveling to and from the island. The lack of an airport and the peculiarities of Patmos have put it high on the company’s priority list, so by the end of July AirSea Lines should have started its flight to the small island in the Dodecanese, nearby Rhodes. Next on the list will be the Cycladic islands of Tinos and Amorgos.

The modification of the license the company has been allocated paved the way for the expansion of AirSea Lines’ activity, as it allows it to make more flights. The company can now perform nine flights from Lavrion, up from three previously, and five from Patras, starting its regular schedule on July 15, up from three before the modification. The Council of State is currently studying the Presidential decree that will determine the legislative framework under which hydroports will operate. This is expected to simplify the licensing process for companies interested.

At this stage it is only AirSea Lines that makes regular hydroplane flights but, according to sources, interest has also been expressed by two more companies. The first intends to fly from Thessaloniki to Halkidiki, Mount Athos, Lemnos, Mytilene, Chios and the islands of eastern Aegean, while the second wishes to fly from Lavrion to Patras, Kalamata and Gythion.

At present, AirSea Lines performs flights with only one hydroplane, but from July 10 it will add a second, currently in Switzerland for heavy maintenance, to its daily schedule. By end-July it is expecting the delivery of a third hydroplane, with a fourth coming in early August.

Weather conditions do not really affect hydroplanes, since wind is no problem for them, but choppy seas do matter, as it has to be calm enough to allow a safe landing on sea. However, on June 17 all flights were canceled due to technical problems with the company’s sole hydroplane. There was a gradual return to a normal schedule on the following day, when flights were made with two-hour delays.

The cost of flying by hydroplane ranges from 40 to 120 euros, depending on the length of the route. Among the flights conducted already are those from Lavrion to Myconos and Paros (75 euros), to Ios and Santorini (90 euros) and to Kalymnos (120 euros). The duration of the flight should not exceed 35 minutes, mainly due to the peculiar nature of the aircraft, which have a capacity of 19 passengers but no toilets.

The height at which hydroplanes usually fly ranges from 500 to 1,000 feet, “so that passengers can have full vision and enjoy the route above the sea,“ as Michael Patellis, the Director of AirSea Lines, explains. However, the average level of flight for hydroplanes is 3,000 feet.

Related Links > http://www.airsealines.com

Cash card holders not to be frustrated on Greek islands June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Greece, Tourism.
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Who could today think of leaving home for even a short vacation without a cash card and preferably enough in their bank account?

Well, apart from a cash card and enough of a bank balance, there also must be a system that allows for interbanking, since it is impossible for all banks to operate branches everywhere. Such an interbanking network in Greece is taken care of by DIAS Interbanking Systems SA, a company linking most of the 6,680 automatic teller machines (ATMs) in operation around the country by 35 banks.

This summer, the geographical coverage of ATMs on the Cycladic and Dodecanese islands is almost up to 100 percent. Some of the smaller islands that now have ATMs, are Koufonissia, Donousa, Sikinos, Folegandros, Kimolos and Antiparos, while Schinousa and Anafi are soon to be equipped with ATMs by the Agricultural Bank (ATEbank).

Most of the Cycladic islands, particularly the popular ones, have been feeding strong competition by banks, resulting in a higher number of existing ATMs. On Santorini, for instance, the seven banks with branches on this idyllic island operate over 25 ATMs, while on Myconos, customers are serviced by eight bank branches and a total 20 ATMs.

According to bank officials, transactions through ATMs during the summer period is up over 30 percent, compared to winter, with foreign visitors in some cases accounting for 90 percent of business, especially on Rhodes and Corfu.

The entire region of the Dodecanese Islands is fully serviced by the DIAS system, together with the contribution of the Dodecanese Cooperative Bank. Here, ATMs are available even in some less popular destinations, such as Astypalaia, Leros, Nisyros, Halki, Leipsoi, Tilos, Kasos, Kastelorizo and Symi islands.

Other small island with ATMs include Psara near Chios, Paxoi in the Ionian islands, all of the Argosaronic islands, even the islet of Agistri, and the northern Sporades and eastern Aegean islands.

In Greece, DIAS operates some 6,680 ATMs, of which 4,000 are located within bank buildings, while the remaining, almost 40 percent, operate in locations away from bank branches to facilitate customers’ cash needs anywhere possible: airports, railway stations, ports, marinas, gas stations, shopping malls and entertainment parks, sports facilities, hospitals and even aboard passenger boats.

In terms of network size, the National Bank leads the market with a total 1,371 ATMs, or a share of 20.5 percent, followed by Eurobank (825), ATEbank (807), Alpha Bank (761), Emporiki Bank (706), Piraeus Bank (601), Millennium Bank (238), Geniki Bank (207), Citibank (167) and Cyprus Bank (164).

Other credit institutions contracted with DIAS include the Greek Postal Savings Bank, Marfin Popular Bank (Marfin, Laiki, Egnatia banks), Probank, Aspis Bank, Cretan Cooperative Bank, Attica Bank, Proton Bank, Hania Cooperative Bank, Hellenic Bank, HSBC, Panhellenic Bank, Dodecanese Cooperative Bank, FBB, the cooperative banks of Achaia, Lamia, Corinth, Evia, Trikala, Kozani, Ioannina and Drama, American Bank of Albania, Cooperative Bank of Serres, Cooperative Bank of Karditsa and American Express.

DIAS allows cash card holders to withdraw up to 600 euros daily, in addition to a number of other banking jobs. Transactions with the bank in which customers keep their account have no transaction fees,but in the case of using the ATM of a different bank, a fee of 1.5 euros to 4.0 euros is charged by DIAS, depending on the amount withdrawn and each bank’s fee policy. In 2006, as many as 17.6 million euros interbanking transactions were executed through the DIAS system, mostly withdrawals, totaling some 2.18 billion euros.

Guillem to dance under the full moon June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera, Hellenic Athens Festival.
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French dance star Sylvie Guillem and her partner Akram Khan are to dance for the Athens Festival and the Museum of Cycladic Art beneath the Acropolis in the ancient amphitheater of Herod Atticus and tickets are already hard to find.

Dolly Goulandris, head of the Museum and of the Nikolaos P. Goulandris Foundation, will give a dinner for the performers, attended by head of the Athens Festival Giorgos Loukos as well as the sponsors Pil Poul – Jerome Serres.

The first four rows of the ancient theater will be taken over to make room for an extended stage, so the first row will actually be Row 5. The evening of the performance, June 29, is also that of the full moon. The magic is due to start at 9.30 p. m.

Late heartbreak for Olympiakos June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Aquatics.
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Olympiakos got very close to qualifying for the final of the Euroleague, Europe’s biggest club competition in water polo, but eventually surrendered yesterday to a late goal that gave Italian champion Pro Recco a 10-9 win and the ticket to today’s final in Milan.

The Greek side, which won the competition five years ago, was always the underdog in the semifinal but scored first in the game only to see the Italians quickly regain their composure and close the first period with a 2-1 lead. Pro Recco continued its surge in the second period to finish the first half with a 5-2 advantage.

Yet the men of coach Vangelis Pateros stormed back in the second half and started eating up Pro Recco’s advantage, led by an excellent Giorgos Afroudakis and boosted by the support of at least 50 Greek fans in the pool’s stands. The third period ended with Pro Recco leading 5-7 and it was not long into the last period before Olympiakos drew level (8-8).

With less than a minute remaining, the two teams were tied at 9-9 but the last attack by Pro Recco was converted by Maurizio Felugo from long range, handing victory to the Italians. In Olympiakos’s final effort, Petre Santa misplaced the ball, putting an end to a great comeback that was incomplete.

Afroudakis and Giorgos Doskas scored three goals each for Olympiakos. Two more came from Addija Komadina and one from Santa. Vladimir Vujasinovic was Pro Recco’s top scorer with three goals.

Olympiakos will today face either Partizan Raiffeisen Belgrade or Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik in the third place playoff.

EU opens tender to distill wine lakes into biofuel June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy, Wine And Spirits.
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The European Union has opened a tender to sell unwanted wine lakes in four countries for use in making bioethanol, its Official Journal said yesterday.

The tender would offer roughly 693,375 hectoliters of wine alcohol stored in Greece, France, Italy and Spain. The deadline for bids was July 5, it said in its latest edition.

“A tendering procedure for the sale of wine alcohol for exclusive use as bioethanol in the fuel sector in the community should be organized… with a view to reducing community stocks of wine alcohol and ensuring continuity of supplies,” it said.

France, Italy and Spain are the EU’s largest winemakers by volume and receive generous amounts of cash from Brussels to distill some of their excess wine, both table and quality, into industrial alcohol or biofuel.

EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has presented four broad policy options for overhauling EU wine policy, with a formal reform proposal to be published on July 4. She has said publicly that she favors abolishing the existing system of “crisis distillation,” an emergency market tool used as a short-term measure to correct supply imbalances.

Fischer Boel has repeatedly complained that the EU wine industry still depends too much on distillation to rid itself of unwanted “wine lakes” at the taxpayers’ expense, saying a fundamental reform is needed to make EU wines more competitive.

Michaniki’s expansion to foreign markets June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Listed construction company Michaniki announced yesterday it will add Belarus to the foreign markets it has expanded into, including Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria and Egypt.

Michaniki Belarus, 75 percent owned by Michaniki and 25 percent by Balkan Export, will aim at constructing public and private projects, developing and operating properties and promoting the group’s products.

Fourlis sees profits rising June 23, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Fourlis sees 2007 pretax come to 50 million euros

Fourlis, which owns the Greek franchise of Swedish home furnishing giant IKEA, said yesterday it expected profits before taxes to rise to 50 million euros this year.

The retailer, which is also a wholesaler of electrical appliances, also said full-year sales are seen at 600 million euros. It posted pretax profits of 47.9 million euros last year. Its sales reached 482 million euros in the same period, with IKEA stores accounting for more than half. Fourlis operates two IKEA stores and plans to add two more in Greece and Cyprus this year. It also aims to expand the IKEA brand to Bulgaria in 2008.

The firm also said its shareholders approved yesterday a 0.18-euro-per-share dividend on 2006 earnings, which will trade ex-dividend on July 2. Fourlis has already paid a 0.13 euro interim dividend. Fourlis shares trade at about 26 times estimated 2007 earnings compared with 18 for the European household appliances sector, according to Reuters Estimates.