Olympic Airlines union protest hits Athens flights

ATHENS, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Greece’s Olympic Airlines workers blocked Athens airport’s runways on Tuesday, causing flight diversions and short delays, in a protest against the state carrier’s planned privatisation, unionists said.

Olympic Airlines [OLY.UL] unions oppose the government’s plans to sell off the ailing flag carrier and have vowed a wave of protests, despite assurances that all of its employees would be redeployed to public service posts or compensated.

“We don’t want to lose our jobs. We oppose the government’s plan,” Olympic Airlines technicians’ union member Kleanthis Giatras told Reuters. “We will continue our protest, because the terms are not satisfactory.”

Authorities said hundreds of protesters blocked Athens airport’s two runways for about 20 minutes forcing the diversion of three flights -- from London, Copenhagen and Amsterdam -- to Greece’s northern city of Thessaloniki airport.

“Three flights heading to Athens were diverted ... and the take-off of others fell behind schedule,” said an airport official who declined to be named. He added operations quickly returned to normal.

Greece’s private sector umbrella union, GSEE, which represents around 2 million people, has convened a nationwide strike next week to halt the carrier’s sale and other pledged economic reforms. (Reporting by Tatiana Fragou and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Charles Dick)