Relatives, friends and political and business leaders bid farewell to the founder and chairman of Aegean Airlines on Saturday afternoon at a funeral service held at the Church of Metamorfosi tou Sotiros (Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior) in the northern Athenian suburb of Kifissia.
Theodoros Vassilakis died on Thursday, aged 78.
Vassilakis was a founding member of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) and in recent years was the driving force behind the promotion of golf tourism in Greece, creating the Aegean Airlines Pro-Am international tournament and the Crete Golf Club, a golf course of international standards near Iraklio.
He was also the man behind car rental company Autohellas-Hertz and car retailer Autotechnica Velmar.
He first got involved in business in Iraklio in 1961. During the 57 years since then, he provided Greece with a network of enterprises that benefited the public not only through the thousands of jobs created, but also by constructing a positive picture of the country and the potential of its human resources.
Vassilakis is credited with building a competitive airline that rivaled Olympic Air, which it then went on to buy from Marfin Investment Group, effectively saving the national carrier from disappearance in October 2013. Aegean has grown so much that in March it signed a deal for the order of up to 42 Airbus aircraft worth $5 billion, the biggest private investment in Greece.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Athens International Airport paid tribute to Theodoros Vassilakis.
Describing him as an “emblematic” personality, AIA said his business career was inextricably linked to “the positive course and modernization of air transport as well as the growth of tourism in our country,” adding that his contribution to “several sectors of the Greek economy and society was considerable.”