Two surprise bids were submitted to the Greek Government for the purchase of Olympc Airlines last week.

Greek owned Aegean Airlines and Chrysler Aviation  submitted separate bids for the purchase of state-run Olympic Airlines, offering 170 million euros and 210 million euros, respectively.

Aegean, which is Olympic’s main competitor in Greece’s domestic routes, said it was interested in buying the carrier’s flight operations, technical maintenance and a company set up by the government to succeed Olympic.

Chrysler Aviation said its bid covers the Olympic Airways group (Pantheon Airways, ground handling and the technical & maintenance base) while it also plans to submit an offer for the purchase of Olympic Group’s remaining assets. Chrysler Aviation said it would recommend that the Greek state hold a 25-pct stake in Olympic Airlines.

These are in addition to the bids submitted by the Marfin Investment Group (MIG) which offered a total 62.4 million euros for Olympic’s flight operations and technical maintenance and the  44.8 million euro bid by Swissport  for Olympic’s ground handling services.

Commenting on the two offers, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis said it was positive the fact that there were more offers for the national carrier, stating: “the government will continue talks with MIG and Swissport until the end of the week, respecting the exclusive nature of negotiations, while we will also examine other offers based on specific principles: existing legislation, national and community rules on competition, the date of the offers and the recommendations of a commissioner monitoring the sale procedure”.

Aegean offered 90 million euros for Olympic’s flying operations and 20 million euros for its aircraft maintenance base. It also offered 60 million euros to buy Pantheon, a company set up by the government as a successor of debt-free Olympic Airlines.

Aegean’s offer tops MIG’s 45.7 million euros bid for Olympic’s flying operations and 16.7 million euros offer for the technical base.

“There is no space for two airlines (in Greece),” Aegean Airlines Chief Executive Eftychios Vassilakis told reporters after submitting the bid. “To compete successfully in Europe and internationally, Greece needs one strong airline.”

Aegean said it can take over and operate Olympic within 60 days of signing the deal whereas MIG offer was to wait until the passing of the tourist season in September to assume control of the airline.

An Aegean statement said it was prepared to “concede part of its domestic operations, in order to further strengthen competition.”

Market analysts responded positiviely to the new bids.

“The Aegean bid advantage is that it will take over and operate Olympic immediately, saving the state a lot of money,” said an analyst at an Athens securities firm, who declined to be named. The government says it loses about 1 million euros a day from Olympic.

Another analyst said Aegean was prompted to enter the race to buy Olympic Airlines by the MIG bid. It  has not expected any interest in Olympic after the failed international tender in January and had assumed that the failure of the tender would leave it as the only airline operating in Greece.