Cypriot man revives historic Olympic aeroplane

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A historic aircraft which was formerly operated by Olympic Airways was restored by a Cypriot entrepreneur and transferred back to the municipality in which Athens’ former airport is located on Thursday.

The aircraft, a Boeing 727 which bore the name “Mount Olympus”, was restored by Andreas Christodoulides of Cypriot company Zela Aviation. It had been left at Athens’ Ellinikon airport when the airport was closed in 2001.

It had originally been purchased by Greek-Argentine businessman Aristotle Onassis for Olympic Airways in 1968 – the year he married former United States First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

On Thursday, it was unveiled at the Sourmena stadium in Elliniko, having been transferred to the Elliniko-Argyroupoli municipality, which oversees the area.

The aircraft will henceforth be located at the stadium, which, the municipality says, will allow people to “travel back in time and discover the fascinating world of the aviation industry.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Christodoulides said the initiatives aims to “ensure older generations do not forget and younger generations learn” about the history of Ellinikon airport and Olympic Airways, as well as the airline’s founder Onassis.

He said he had taken the decision to purchase and renovate the aircraft “as a duty I owe my motherland Greece and because of my passion for aeroplanes”.

Greek Transport Minister Christos Staikouras was also present at the ceremony and described the aircraft as a “living monument” which “symbolises Greece’s aviation history”.

Greek Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis described the event as “emotional” and said the aircraft will “preserve the tangible memory of a glorious era in modern Greek history”.

Elliniko-Argyroupoli mayor Giannis Konstantatos said that by having the aircraft, his municipality will “keep the memory of Olympic Airways alive and vibrant”.

He hailed Christodoulides’ “grand vision” and said Christodoulides’ name has “become a part of Olympic Airways’ history”.

Ellinikon airport was opened in 1938 and served as Athens’ main airport until it was closed in 2001 to be replaced by Athens international airport ahead of the 2004 Olympic games, which took place in the city.

Olympic Airways were founded by Onassis in 1957 and was Greece’s primary flag carrier airline for much of its history, until it ceased operations in 2009 and sold its name and logo to a new company.

The new company was bought by Aegean Airlines in 2013, though the two airlines continue to operate as separate brands. Olympic Air today operates a fleet of ATR and De Havilland Canada aircraft and at present operates domestic routes inside Greece.

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