03:12:2009 - 01:12 EET
  • Patriarch Theodore II meets with Greek Navy chief
    News in English
    The Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Theodoros II, yesterday received visiting Hellenic Navy chief of staff Vice-Admiral Georgios Karamalikis, who is on an official visit to Egypt this week. Karamalikis arrived in the country at the invitation of his Egyptian counterpart, Vice-Admiral Moheb Memish.
  • Panhellenic Cartoon & Drawing exhibition: “Nostalgia for the Homeland”.
    News in English
    The Panhellenic Cartoon & Drawing exhibition on the topic, “Nostalgia for the Homeland” is being organised by the Ymettos Filoproodos Society. Anyone is welcome to participate – especially Diaspora Greeks. The deadline for submitting entries is April 25, 2010. In addition, up to February 10, anyone can submit a proposed sketch for the official poster in jpeg format.
  • Εκδήλωση των «Αργοναυτών» για τον Αλέξανδρο Παπαδιαμάντη.
    Ομογενειακό Δελτίο
    Νέα Υόρκη - Με μία σεμνή εκδήλωση που κράτησε αμείωτη την προσοχή των ακροατών που την παρακολούθησαν, την προ περασμένη Κυριακή, στο Σταθάκειο Πολιτιστικό Κέντρο, ο Σύλλογος Νομού Μαγνησίας τίμησε τον Αγιο των Ελληνικών Γραμμάτων, Αλέξανδρο Παπαδιαμάντη. Στην εκδήλωση που έγινε σε συνεργασία με την Ομοσπονδία Ελληνικών Σωματείων Μείζονος Νέας Υόρκης, αποσπάσματα του διηγήματος του Σκιαθίτη λογοτέχνη διάβασε ο Θανάσης Τζούβελης, με μουσική υπόκρουση του Σεραφείμ Λάζου που συνόδευε με την κιθάρα του.  «Η εκδήλωση αυτή των Αργοναυτών μας δίνει την ευκαιρία να ξανασκεφτούμε το μέλλον του Ελληνισμού της Αμερικής και της ελληνικής γλώσσας που χάνεται.…
  • «Argonauts» event in honor of Alexandros Papadiamantis
    News in English
    The Association of Magnesia Prefecture held an event in honour of “the Saint” of modern Greek Letters at Stathakeio Cultural Centre. The event was carried out in cooperation with the Hellenic Federation of Greater New York and was attended by prominent personalities and university professors, such as Queens College Professor, Mr. Nikos Alexiou, who stated that this event was an opportunity to reconsider the future of the American Diaspora and the preservation of the Greek Language which is in peril. The event was also saluted by Mr. Evangelos Kyriakopoulos, Consul of Greece in New York and Mr. George Vlikidis, Consulate…
  • Πανελλήνια Έκθεση Γελοιογραφίας και Σκίτσου με θέμα: «Η Νοσταλγία της Πατρίδας»
    Ομογενειακό Δελτίο
    Αθήνα - Πανελλήνια Έκθεση Γελοιογραφίας και Σκίτσου με θέμα: «Η Νοσταλγία της Πατρίδας», διοργανώνει o Φιλοπρόοδος Όμιλος Υμηττού. Η πρόσκληση απευθύνεται σε όσους επιθυμούν να συμμετέχουν και όχι μόνο σε επαγγελματίες σκιτσογράφους και γελοιογράφους. Ιδιαίτερη πρόσκληση απευθύνεται στους Έλληνες της Διασποράς.   Προθεσμία υποβολής των έργων ορίζεται η 25η Απριλίου, 2010. Επίσης, μέχρι την 10η Φεβρουαρίου, όσοι επιθυμούν μπορούν να καταθέσουν σκίτσο – πρόταση για την αφίσα της διοργάνωσης σε μορφή jpeg.   Η έκθεση των έργων προγραμματίζεται να γίνει τον Ιούνιο, στην Αίθουσα του Ομίλου, και θα λειτουργεί για 15 ημέρες. Μετά την έκθεση τα έργα…




Greek-American tour operators want answers
Σύνταξη/επιμέλεια από τον/την Μπάμπης Παπαδάκης   
The Association of Greek American Travel Agents (GATA) is expressing concerns over the fate of approximately 1500 Olympic Airlines passengers who have return tickets dated after September 30th, the date the airline is set to conduct its final flights. As the current situation is, the manner of return of these passengers remains unknown, after Olympic Airlines was sold in March to Marfin Investment Group (MIG). Despite the fact that the New Olympic has not yet unveiled its plans, it is considered certain that it will discontinue the Athens-New York route as it did with the flights to Canada and Australia.
Both passengers and travel agents (who are recipients of thousand of frantic calls by passengers inquiring about their returns) have not been notified as to how the passengers will return, while at the same time, Olympic’s information hotline in Athens, has not been answering calls for days, In the US, despite the addition of 50 extra Olympic staff members, they are also unable to provide information about the passengers returns. According to international agreements, in the event of an airlines discontinuation of flights or services, they are obligated to secure return trips to ticket-holding passengers.
Problems are also being faced by members of Olympic’s ICARUS club, (frequent flier program). The members were informed in a letter in May that they had to utilize their free miles by September 30th (when the airline will discontinue the flights) otherwise they would lose their free miles.
 At the same time, most passengers who attempted to make use of their free miles during the summer were unable to do so, since the airline only offers them if there is seating availability. In the US, a free economy class ticket requires 80 thousand miles, while the average route in Europe is 17,500 miles. In communication with the airline in mid-August, it was noted that seating was available for the Athens-NY route only after September 24th, in other words, just for one week. At the same time, in efforts to communicate with the ICARUS program via e-mail, phone of fax, there was no response.
In a press conference last week in Astoria, GATA members expressed to the local media their grave concern about the passengers, but also for the effects the discontinuation of the direct flight will have to the Greek Tourism.
During the Press Conference, Gatta members said that although no official announcement has been made by OA of the cancelled route, they are fearing that Olympic Air will suspend NYC – Athens flights effective October 1, 2009:
They explained that the suspension of a route is a two step process: stopping the sale of the flights and canceling the reservations on the flights.
“Last week, OA stopped sales on all flights NYC ATH NYC. No reservations can be made through our computer systems for travel past October 1. No official explanation has been given for this. We believe this is a clear indication that no flights will take place by OA on this route after October 1st.We ask why they have closed these flights and yet, have not cancelled the reservations that have already been ticketed for travel October 1 and later on the NYC ATH NYC flights?”
The Greek American tour operators said that they are alarmed about the American and Greek traveling public already in Greece and the Greeks who are in the USA holding return tickets for travel after October 1 and they estimate them to be approximately 3,000 people.
“How will they fly back? No one at OA in NYC or Athens has been able to provide answers to this question. We demand that passengers be re protected in an acceptable and timely manner in compliance with polices and procedures of the European Union and IATA carriers. This should be done immediately to avoid chaos. We are concerned about additional expenses passengers will incur due to the cancelled flights. No one in OA NYC or Athens has been able to answer this question. We are concerned for the American and Greek traveling public who has already purchased tickets for travel after October 1. How will they be re protected? No one in OA NYC or ATH has been able to answer this question. Passengers have planed their vacations and they should not be forced, at the last minute, to pay additional monies.”
 The tour operators warn the public that “until such time as an official announcement is made, we are helpless in assisting our clients in any away with re protection on other airlines. If the traveling public cannot get assistance by calling Olympic, we suggest they call the Greek Consulate or Greek Embassy for additional information”.
 GATA ask for assurances that competent OA personnel will be left in place to deal with pending matters such as lost or damage luggage, refunds of tickets, expenses incurred due to the cancellation of the route, unresolved cases between the public and travel agencies that cannot be resolved in the next 20 days.
 Referring to press reports that the new Olympic Air will enter into a code share agreement with Delta for non stop transatlantic service and that there will be Greek speaking personnel on board the flights, they said that according to their information “no such agreement exists.”
Due to the new status quo, the air fares to Greece have skyrocketed.
“The only scheduled non stop service to Athens will be on Delta. Continental has suspended their Newark non stop service, effective September 6. USAir will suspend their Philadelphia non stop service, effective October 1. Due to the cancellation of the OA flights, only Delta is serving the route non stop. As a result prices have skyrocketed. Various price checks have revealed that prices on many days are more expensive in October than they were in the summer months.”
The long term picture is even graver.
 “-We see a shortage of seats in the US market for Greece. With the withdrawal of OA, we loose approximately 100, 000 non stop seats a year. The result will be a dramatic increase in the cost of air tickets, particularly in the summer months. Travel to Greece will become very expensive. These price increases will affect the Omongenia and its ability to travel home on a regular basis. American tourism to Greece will suffer tremendously since the destination will be very expensive. Other competitive countries will become more attractive vacation spots offering non stop service at lower air rates. For example, Turkey has Delta and Turkish Airlines offering daily non stop service to Istanbul. Spain has Iberia and Delta offering daily non stop service to Madrid and Barcelona. The American tourist is among the most sought after tourist in the world due to the money spent in the visited country. With less non stop seats being offered, there will be a reduction of tourism to Greece resulting in less revenue for the most important sector of the Greek economy - tourism. The American tourist comprises 55-60% of the total sales of Louis Cruises, the leading cruise line of Greece. In addition, they make up a large chunk of the deluxe and superior deluxe hotel market in Greece. These industries employee thousands of Greeks.”
 GATA leaders underlined that Greece will become the first major European country without a national airline to NYC.
“This summer, Scanderberg Air, begun non stop flights several times a week from Tirana and Pristine to NYC while we are suspending them”.
 Another major factor is that once out of the USA market, it will not be easy for any Greek carrier to resume flights.
“We support the privatization of Olympic Airlines and firmly believe that the NYC ATH route can be profitable, if properly managed. Under all the governments’ supervision OA has not been managed properly. OA / USA have been without a general manager for over 3 years. We strongly urge MIG to re evaluate and re consider their decision and maintain the NYC Athens non-stop route. We will support it loyally. We are holding the Greek government and the opposition political parties responsible for the suspension of service and the dramatic affects it will have, both here and in Greece.
The Greek American Tour operators also raise few more serious points to consider:
-There has been non stop service between NYC and ATH on Olympic since 1966 bridging Greece and the Omogenia in the USA.
-The Omogenia has been a dedicated and faithful client for OA – even paying more to travel on OA because they felt safe and at home on OA air craft. This is evident even among the younger Greek – Americans who have created “Save the NYC ATH Route” on Face Book with over 2,000 members and no fewer than 7 groups discussing the “disaster” of losing this route! Most companies pay millions for such a loyal following.
 - With the tourism sector being the most vital component of the Greek economy, a national carrier is a critical component in caring out its goals of increasing tourism to Greece and as such, maintaining its economy. It is not by accident that most countries have a national airline to implement its tourism policies. In addition, most countries support and cooperate with tour companies who sell their destination.
 -Olympic Airlines and we, the Greek American Travel Professionals, are the only ones, who at the most difficult times in our recent history – Regan Embargo, the Gulf Wars, the Kosovo War and the aftermath of September 11, kept service to Greece and promoted the destination diligently.
 Who will guarantee us that with the next world crisis, non stop service will not be suspended, once again?
In closing, we, the Greek American Travel Professionals are greatly concerned about the suspension of flights between NYC and ATH and the impact for travel to Greece. Furthermore, the manner in which this cessation is being handled by the Greek government and Olympic borders on total irresponsibility. We demand a clear and concise statement on what is happening and what will happen, immediately.

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News in English

  • Patriarch Theodore II meets with Greek Navy chief
  • Panhellenic Cartoon & Drawing exhibition: “Nostalgia for the Homeland”.
  • «Argonauts» event in honor of Alexandros Papadiamantis
  • 20 years of Thanksgiving meals.
  • AHEPA honors distinguished Greek-Americans and Phil-Hellenes
  • Preparations in final stage for opening of Holy Cross in Whitestone
  • 25 years Pan Gregorian
  • New board for Chiot Federation
  • SAE youth meeting
  • Expatriate top ballerina and actress.


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