Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE (1930-1945)

By: Rob Mulder

This difficult to pronounce name of the airline company means Hellenic Aerial Communications Company and was also known under the following two names: Hellinki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion – HEES and Société Hellénique de Communications Aériennes – SHCA. The company was founded by initiative of the Greek State on 9 July 1930 as a result of the Law 4809 of 5 June 1930.

The law was a confirmation of the agreement between the Greek State and the airline company Ikaros  (1). It gave information regar­ding the development of aviation in Greece. It also gave the company permissi­on to purchase aircraft from abroad. The Elliniki Etaireia Enaereon Synhinoion AE bought for 1,000,000 Drs. from Ikaros N. Kampanis & Co. the general concession, which had validity of sixteen years and gave the privilege to transport passengers, goods and mail not only over Greece, but also to Crete, Egypt, Yugoslavia, Italy, Albania and Bulgaria. The next basic air routes were awarded to Elliniki Etaireia Enaereon Synhinoion AE:

1. In co-operation with Aeroput (Kingdom of Yugoslavia) Athínai (Athens) – Thessaloniki – Beograd – Budapest;

2. In co-operation with the Romanian airline company Thessaloniki – Sofia – Nisch – Bucuresti; and

3. In co-operation with the Turkish- Italian airline company Aero Expresso Italiana SA Brindisi – Thessaloniki – Constantinopel – Ankara – Ada­na – Alexandrette – Aleppo.

If the partners were not able to pool with Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE, the Greek company had the right to fly the service alone. The stock capital was 28,500,000 Drs. fully paid and mainly supplied by the Army’s Pension Fund, the Post Office’s Saving Bank, the Railways of Thessaly, Junkers Flugzeugwerk AGJfa and the National Bank of Greece. In total 19,000 shares, worth 1,500 Drs. each. Law No. 82462 of 24 Decem­ber 1930 accepted the articles of association.

Nic Kampanis, the owner of the Ikaros-company, joined the new Greek airline company and functioned as General Manager until 5 Septem­ber 1936, when Mr Vizas succeeded him. Chairman of the Board of Directors was the Governor of the National Bank of Greece, Jean Drossopoulos, Vice-Chairman, Nic Caro­lou, Managing Director, Thr Bogdanos. Directors were General A Frandjis, General C Mazarakis Enian, Admiral A Gonatas, Const Isailloff, E Lambrinoudis, D Lykiardopoulos, P Macris and E Paparighopoulos.

By October it was clear that the National Bank of Greece wanted to keep Jfa out of the Board of Directors. It wanted the company to be Greek owned and run. In November the Elliniki Etaireia Enaereon Synhinoion AE was granted its first subsidy: The company received annually RM 660,000 depending on the kilometres flown per year. Once the company was formed the Ford Motor Company returned on the scene and came with a new offer for four Ford 5-AT Tri-Motors again. The Board of Directors of the Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE was now at the point to make the final decision. It turned out to be a political one. On 17 January 1931, the Board decided to purchase four of the type Junkers G 24he. Dr Adolf Kottmeier rang straight to Jfa and informed them of the final victory over the Ford Motor Company. The deal was mainly thanks to a favourable trade treaty with Germany and financial support by the Greek government. All aircraft were equipped with three 280 hp Junkers L 5 engines. Jfa’s Swedish sister company, AB Flygindustri in Limhamn near the city of Malmö, constructed the parts of the four G 24s and transported them to Dessau for assembly. Mid-April the German pilots started the transfer of the aircraft from Germany to Greece. First out was Flugkapitän Waldemar Koeder, who flew the first aircraft (SY-BAM) to Greece, followed by the second (SX-ACB) two weeks later. Another German pilot, Flugkapitän Georg Jüterbock, flew this aircraft. Flugkapitän Walter Rotbe flew over the third aircraft (SX-ACD) on 28 and 29 May. In June the last Junkers G 24he (SX-ACE) was flown over by Flugkapitän Neuenhof­en.

Flugkapitän Walter Rotbe described in his memoirs that he flew the third aircraft in two days to Athínai. The first stretch went from Dessau to Wien and Budapest. After a good night sleep he continued to Beograd and Thessaloniki. Custom clearance took place in Thessaloniki after which he started at 4 pm for Athínai. He made the flight in 10 hours, with an average speed of 180 kmh.

On 1 June the air service Athínai (Tatoi Airport) – Thessaloniki (Sedes Air­port) was started up. The service was daily (except Sundays). Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE had not yet trained its own pilots; so four Ger­mans pilots flew the aircraft, while training four Greek second pilots. The 370 km long air route was interes­ting, if not only because of the saving of time. By train the trip took 10.5 hours, by air just over 2 hours. Further­mo­re, in Thessa­loniki the Yugo­slav airline company Aeroput offered a connecti­on to Skoplje and Beograd. The Athínai – Thessaloniki-service was later conti­nued to Dráma, east of Thessaloniki. On 23 Novem­ber Elliniki Etaireia Enaereon Synhinoion AE opened a new service running from Athínai to Agrínion and Ioánnina. The fre­quency on this air route was three times a week. Thanks to the favoura­ble climate the Elliniki Etaireia Enaereon Synhinoion AE could service all routes all-year around.

The organisation of the services was in hands of three parties: the air force (in charge of communication), the Post Office (in charge of the weather reports) and the company itself (in charge for the emergency landing grounds along the route). This organisation was perfect for the service to Thessalo­niki, but on the second service to Agrínion and Ioánnina this was worse. Latter city was situated in an area surrounded by mountains. A service to this city was however regarded as vital. The city of Pátrai was to be included as well, but due to the difficulties in constructing an airfield here, this stopover had to be dropped.

The company had a financial year running from 1 July – 30 June, thus the results presented in printed material were either given for a calendar year or for a combination of two half years (1931-32, 1932-33, etc.). The financial year, figures for the first months of operation (up to 31 Decem­ber 1931) are know: 3,058 passengers, 21,558 kg luggage, 9,061 kg of merchandises and 4,337 kg of mail. Regularity was 74.5 %. The four aircraft flew a total of 131,074 km (on 336 flights). The subsidy by the Greek State was in 1931-32 14,549,000 Drs., being 42 Drs. per flown kilometre.

In 1932 the Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE network received numbers: Air Service No. 442 for Athínai – Agrínion – Ioánnina and Air Service No 443 for Thessaloniki – Athínai. In the German Luft­kursbuch (timetable published in Germany) of 1932 the schedu­les were published for the services during the summer month (1 May-15 October):

442 Athínai – Agrínion – Ioánnina


08.45 am    dep     Athínai               arr       4.05 pm

10.15 am    arr       Agrínion            dep     2.35 pm

10.45 am    dep     Agrínion            arr       2.05 pm

11.35 am    arr       Ioánnina             dep     1.15 pm

443. Thessaloniki – Athínai


5.20 pm   dep.      Thessaloniki     arr       09.10 am

6.30 pm   arr         Athínai               dep     07.00 am

For Air Service No 442 the departure time for Ioánnina was in the period 16-30 September set at 1245noon. And on the other service there was a change in the schedule on Thursday (period 1 June-31 July). The Junkers G 24he departed at 4.30am. Prices were reasonable and kept just under the prices of a railway ticket, incl. seat- or sleeper reservations. Thessaloniki – Athínai was Drs.822 one-way and return Drs 1,545. The price for the service to Agríni­on was Drs 450 one-way and return Drs 825. From Athínai to Ioánnina one paid Drs 716 one way and return Drs 1,331.

In 1932 1,110 flights were made and 414,010 km flown. The number of passengers increased to 7,892 (+157 %). The aircraft carried 79,540 kg luggage, 98,061 kg merchandise and 6,637 kg mail. The regularity went up to 89 % and that means 988 flights went without any delays. As in 1931, no accidents occurred.

Between 1 January and 14 March 1933, air traffic in Greece was paralysed due to flooding of the major airfields. On 15 March the Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE re-opened its network and continu­ed to fly until 20 December of that year. Both Ioánnina and Thessaloniki were regularly served, but the city of Agrínion was only served on demand. The shorter season also meant a decrease of the traffic results. With the four aircraft 376,629 km were flown on only 1,007 flights. 6,498 passengers were transported, as well as 64,126 kg luggage, 135,675 kg freight and 9,985 kg airmail. It is worth noticing that the transportation of freight and airmail increased. Also the regularity increased to 94.5 %.

In April 1934 the Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE’s Junkers G 24hes had flown 1,000,000 kilometres since their delivery in 1931. The Chief Pilot of the company, the German Georg Jüterbock, and the Chief of Opera­tions, the German Mr Illner, were both congratula­ted by Junkers Werke AG for this achievement.

On 23 May 1934 the service Athínai – Thessaloniki was extended to Dráma, 3 times a week. This was the only change in the schedule that year. Thanks to the increase of the number of passengers, and the number of kilometre flown, the Greek State increased the subsidy subsequently. For the year 1932-33 it went up to 5.9 million Drs, 1933-34 to 7.9 million Drs, and 1934-35 to 9.9 million Drs The Government had great interest in the Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE and supported it all the way. This made it very easy for Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE to increase its business. For the year 1934 the results were again satisfying: 1,119 flights performed, 370,961 km flown, and 7,763 passen­gers, 309,789 kg merchandise and 12,658 kg mail transported. Again no accidents occurred on any of the services.

On 1 April 1935 the representative of the Greek Government at the Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE, M Papadopulos, became Technical Director of the company. In November of that year the majority of the shares, then in hands of the National Bank of Greece, were transferred to the Army’s Pension Fund. This was done by request of the Elliniki Etaireia Enaereon Synhinoion AE and made it possible to increase the stock capital with 500,000 Drs. The increase and the move of the shares should also lead to an extension of the network to Egypt and Turkey, as well as new domestic air service. New destinations under planning were Pelopones (Calamata), Korfu, Alexandropolis and Comotini. The opening of air routes to Korfu and Pelopones were planned for the 1936-season. Together with the change of the shares, Mr Papadopulos changed his position within the company and became General Manager.

The Greek and Italian Government signed in 1935 a new Air Agreement, which would lead to an extension of the service Athínai to Brindisi to Napoli and Marseille (France). On the other side the Italians were allowed to continue from Thessaloniki to Sofija.

In the early years of aviation in Greece the Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE never had to open international air services, as most foreign airline companies had regular routes to Athínai. Ala Littoria SA (the successor of SA Aero-Espres­so Italiana) operated a line from Brindisi to Athínai, three times weekly, and from Athínai to the island of Rhodos (Rhodes) twice weekly. In addition the company flew three times weekly from Brindisi to Tiranë (Tirana, Albania) and Thessaloniki. The Yugoslav airline company Aeroput flew once a week the service Skopplje – Thessaloniki. The French company Air France flew Marseil­le – Beirut service via the island of Korfu and Athínai. The Polish P L L Lot operated the air route (Warszawa -) Lwòw – Cernauti – Bucuresti – Sofija – Thessaloniki three times a week. Finally, two of the biggest airline companies in the world, Imperial Airways Ltd. and KLM, used Athínai as a transit point for their service to the Far East.

Regularity on the EEES-routes stayed constant around 90 %. The Athí­nai – Thessaloniki service had a regularity of 98 %, Thessaloniki – Dráma 90 % and Athínai – Ioánnina 93 %. In 1935 1,372 flights were performed and 413,000 km flown. The company was approaching the 10,000 passen­gers per year. In 1935 a total of 9,075 passengers were reached. The four aircraft still flew without any incidents on the two routes and transported that year 90,346 kg luggage, 217,583 kg freight and 15,930 kg of mail. This year a profit pf Drs  5,530,545.50 was made.

In 1936 the service to Thessaloniki was flown twice a day, with three times a week a connection to Dráma. The Ioánnina-service was flown four times weekly, with twice weekly a stopover at Agrínion. No new services were opened this year either.

The Greek State and the Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE signed that year a new agreement in which the above-mentioned increase of the stock capital was regulated and the company was allowed to trade its five years old Junkers G 24he for the more modern Junkers Ju-52/3m. It was to order two Junkers Ju-52/3mges for delivery in 1938. Meanwhile, 196 flights (covering 72,520 km) were made by a hired Junkers Ju-52/3m of Deutsche Lufthansa AG. The aircraft flew on the Athínai – Thessaloniki service on which a regularity of 96 % was achieved. In addition 510 flights were made by the Junkers G 24he on the line, flying 190,004 km. On the air route Thessaloniki – Dráma 217 flights (30,380 km) and on the route Athínai – Agrínion – Ioánnina 420 flights (114,069 km) were made. On 3 special flights 1,365 km was flown. Some of the results suffered a small decrease: 8,207 passengers, 89,785 kg luggage, 141,740 kg freight and 17,034 kg of mail. As mentioned before Nic Kampanis left the company on 5 September and was succeeded by Mr Vizas. In April a meeting headed by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Aviation, J Metaxas, had a special mission to discuss the possibility of extending the services to Korfu, Sofija, Beograd and Egypt, and to order the two Junkers Ju-52/3mges. According to the Director of Aviation, Mr Photopoulos, Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE could easily extend its network without burdening the National Budget if it co-operated with foreign airline companies. P L L Lot and Deutsche Lufthansa AG were willing to co-operate when the Greek Government gave permission to the airline companies to fly to Athínai. In 1937 negotiations started with Rumania to come to a similar agreement for a service to Bucuresti. Here a third party, the Polish P.L.L. Lot, could be included in the agreement. After the meeting it was clear that the Govern­ment wanted to open up the sky above Greece and allow as many airline compa­nies as possible to open services on Greece.

The domestic services continued to be flown by the Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE. In 1937 the service to Dráma was not operated. The planned extension of the service Athínai – Ioánnina to Kérkira was not opened either. In the season 1936-37 the Junkers G 24he, SX-ACE Patras flew 769 hours and this was the best performance of the company’s aircraft up to that date.

On 21 December 1937 the Greek Air Ministry and Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE signed a new agreement replacing the old one of 1936. Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE was to receive a subsidy for the purchase of three Junkers Ju-52/3ms and could keep its present fleet of Junkers G 24he. The latter aircraft would not have to be changed for Junkers Ju-52/3m. Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE ordered therefore with Junkers Flugzeug- und Motoren Werke AG three brand new Junkers Ju-52/3mges for delivery in 1938. The first two Greek pilots were sent to Germany for training and could start flying on the aircraft upon their return in Greece.

During the year 1938 the same routes as previously have been operated. The result for the year 1937-38 are known and given here: 627 passengers carried, 63,995 kg luggage, 205,140 kg freight and 8,071 kg mail trans­ported. The aircraft made, 246 flights and flew 346,060 km on the domestic services.

A new law replaced the Law 4809 from 1930. Now the Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE was given a subsidy per flown kilometre of Drs 36.33 with a maximum of Drs 16,311,000 per year. Of this subsidy Drs 900,000 was used for the purchase of spare engines for the Junkers Ju-52/3mge, which were to be delivered that year. The Greek Government paid for the three Junkers Ju-52/3mges.

In January 1938 Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE signed a pool agreement with the Egyptian Misr Airworks for the air route Thessa­loniki – Athínai – Kreta – Alexandria to be flown twice weekly.

On 30 June 1938 the first Junkers Ju-52/3mge, SX-ACF (c/n 5984) was handed over to the Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE at Dessau, Germany and flown to Athínai, where it arrived one day later. In July and August the next two Junkers Ju-52/3mges were delivered to Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE and arrived at Athínai. They were allotted SX-ACH (c/n 6004) and SX-ACI (c/n 6025). The fleet consisted out of four Junkers G 24hes and three Junkers Ju-52/3mges. The Greek Junkers Ju-52/3mge had three 525-550 hp 9 cc air-cooled BMW Hornet engines which gave it a maximum speed of 315kmh.  The network in 1938 had a length of 1,228 km on which 1,419 flights were made and 375,049 km flown. The company transported 7,410 passen­gers, 312,007 kg freight and luggage and 7,552 kg of mail. Regularity stopped at 90.2 %. The occupancy was 70.4 %.

On 12 or 15 April 1939 the new Junkers Ju-52/3m SX-ACF opened the new air service from Athínai to Megalokastron (or Heraclion, the informa­tion is confusing on this point) on the island of Kreta (Crete). It was flown three times a week. Misr Airworks started the service from Megalokastron to Alexandria (Egypt) and thus EEES’s first international route was in operation. In 1939 the service Athínai – Thessaloniki – Dráma was split up in two separate services with one flight daily (except on Sundays) to each destinati­on. Aircraft used on the service were to Thessa­loniki the new Junkers Ju-52/3m and to Dráma the older Junkers G 24he. In Dráma was a bus connection to and from the city of Cavala.

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday the direct service Athí­nai – Ioánnina was operated mainly by Junkers G 24he. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE flew the Athí­nai – Agrínion – Ioánnina service. Again the opening of a service to Kérkira (Korfu) was planned, but due to the bad draining at Kérkira the service could still not be started. The French airline company Air France served Kérkira, but this was by flying boats. Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE had no such flying boats and had to wait until the airport was suitable for use by land-planes.

Any services for 1940 have not been found, but it is likely that the air route operated in 1939 were continued in 1940. Results are however not known. Italian forces attacked Greece in November 1940 and the Greek Government confiscated the seven aircraft of Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE. The attack was followed by a German invasion starting on 6 April 1941 and on 23 April the Greece surrendered. The three Greek Junkers Ju 52/3ms were taken over by the German Wehrmacht and handed over to the Luftwaffe.

On 13 June 1941 the German Deutsche Lufthansa AG took over the 9,690 shares of Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE from the Greek State at the price of Drs 1,500 per share. Deutsche Lufthansa AG obtained through the buying of the shares 51 % of the company. In May 1941, just before the take-over by the Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE had received a new concession for the next 20 years, i.e. up to 27 May 1961. On 29 August 1941 Deutsche Lufthansa AG asked for an extraordinary meeting of share holders were the new articles of association were accepted and a new Board of Directors chosen.

When 1941-42 the Greek drachma lost its value, Deutsche Lufthansa AG offered the company a new Junkers Ju-52/3m for its shares, if a new domestic air route was opened. The Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE however, never took up its regular services. Nor did the new Junkers Ju-52/3m come. On 13 May 1944 a new agreement replaced the older ones, but this had no further influence. The Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE stopped all her activities. After the war the company did not return on the scene. In the fifties, Olympic Airways took over the role of the Elliniki Etairea Enaerion Synkoinonion AE.

(1) Ikaros was formed in November 1925.


SX-ACB via John Stroud via Air Britain Archive 1989/p.60

SX-ACH via A Stamatopolous via Air Britain Archive 1989/p.63


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