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Greece’s President Papoulias Flies to Brussels Economy Class…

 The president of debt-laden Greece Karolos Papoulias and the Greek delegation flew to EU Summit in Brussels using economy class on Wednesday afternoon. The 83-year-old president takes the burden of travelling ‘stuck’ in a 3-seat row, in order to set an example of frugality when the majority of the Greeks suffer under strict austerity. Unfortunately, as the decision that the President would fly to EU Summit instead of PM Samaras was last minute, the Greek delegation would not take advantage of special fares. His two-way ticket is estimated to cost 500-600 euro.

The president will travel economy class to a European Union summit this week, his office said on Wednesday.

Leaders of the 27-nation EU meet in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit to be dominated by the euro zone΄s debt crisis.

A source familiar with the travel plans of the Greek delegation, led by 83-year-old President Karolos Papoulias, said they would travel economy on a regular Aegean Airlines flight to Brussels.

The show of frugality follows a 30-percent pay cut for ministers in the new ruling coalition – a response to public anger over government waste and privilege as ordinary Greeks bear the brunt of punishing cuts demanded by the EU and International Monetary Fund in exchange for a rescue.

The president has already given up his 280,000 euro ($350,000) salary.

“He΄s flying Aegean Airways, economy class, to set an example,” a presidential aide told Reuters.

Papoulias, whose post is mainly ceremonial, is going to Brussels only because the new Greek government was struck by two medical emergencies shortly after it was formed last week. Papoulias will stand in for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, 22 years his junior, who is recovering from eye surgery.

Samaras΄s first choice for finance minister, Vassilis Rapanos, resigned within days of his appointment after being taken to hospital with abdominal pain, nausea and dizziness. Outgoing Finance Minister George Zanias will be part of the delegation with Papoulias.

A former resistance fighter against the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974, Papoulias said in February he was giving up his salary in solidarity with the Greek people as lawmakers voted deep cuts to wages, pensions and jobs as the price of a bailout worth 130 billion euros (Capital.gr)

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13 comments

  1. On European flights the difference between business class and econoomy is almost non-existent. And I haven’t seen first class in a long time.
    Hope they will have assistance for him. When my in-laws (same age as the president) were visiting this Spring, they were accompanied for free by airline staff all the way from the entrance of the airport to the exit at Athens International. Wheelchairs and all…
    Still, he will be very tired when he arrives in Brussels. And that’s a risk for the whole country. Because if something would happen to him we might be in for another round of elections. 🙁

  2. keeptalkinggreece

    he doesn’t travel alone – what do you mean no difference between economy & business? he should have flown sitting on the airplane wings?

  3. Last couple of times I flew with Transavia and KLM inside Europe. And their airplanes have three seat rows in Economy Class and Business Class. Seats were almost identical, only the service is different. It should be the choice of flight for all in-European flights when your travels are paid by public money.
    And of course he doesn’t travel alone. And he might even be ushered into the VIP-waiting room and not have to stand in line for the security checks? But for an 83 y.o. this is a very tiring trip. And it shows that even for a presidency one should always go for meritocracy and that includes good health.

  4. Nonsense. There is a considerable difference between business class and tourist class between Athens and all other EU countries. Even if the saving per person is only 50% (and it is probably more), still the symbolic act means something.

    As far as his ability to achieve anything is concerned, it is zero. Greece is a country that persists in putting inappropriate people in positions of importance – inappropriate in terms of age, ability, character, lack of experience, etc. There seems to be no end to this stupidity here.

  5. He might get an upgrade to business class being VIP lol

  6. keeptalkinggreece

    good point!

  7. giaoýrti giaoyrtáki

    Take your bicycle, lazy

  8. keeptalkinggreece

    no respect to a 83-year-old, eh?

  9. I think for security heads of state like him should have their own planes. I know Greece is hurting but their have to be some standards, as any head of state should be afforded their own plane to fly.

  10. I did indeed not make that clear. I wasn’t pointing at the price but at the extra comfort people often expect from a business class seat. As those seats are now often the same as those in economy it does make sense not to pay those higher tariffs.

  11. Given that there is no state left worthy of the name, he should feel lucky to get his ticket paid.

  12. giaoýrti giaoyrtáki

    Ask the 200.000.000 refugees who are forced to leave their coasts what they think of this kind of “American waste”…?
    The 1st world must die so save the planet!

  13. I agree. They do have planes too, at least they used to. Certain positions require frequent and spontaneous travel, thus the obvious need. To put Papoulias, an 84 year old statesman on an economy class flight is not the best idea. The symbolic gesture is positive but I think there would not have been backlash had Papoulias been sent on one of the national planes.