CAIR sells 2nd Heathrow slot to Amer­i­can Air­lines

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Cyprus Air­ways has sold its sec­ond day­time slot at Lon­don’s Heathrow air­port to Amer­i­can Air­lines in a deal worth $31 mln (22.8 mln eu­ros) that will boost the trou­bled na­tional car­rier’s fi­nances and help it re­cover.

The air­line’s new board and man­age­ment, with less than a year at the helm, have em­barked on an ag­gres­sive cost-cut­ting plan that in­cludes sell­ing the first night-time slot at Heathrow to Mid­dle East Air­lines for 6.3 mln eu­ros in March, less than half a failed bid from Qatar Air­ways that pulled out of talks.

CAIR has cut back on routes and is try­ing to re­duce its un­pro­duc­tive staff to com­pet­i­tive lev­els, as ri­vals make their way into des­ti­na­tions and mar­kets pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered lu­cra­tive for the na­tional car­rier.

Trade unions have been rant­ing about the “sell as­sets, but have yet to pro­pose con­crete al­ter­na­tives.

The govern­ment is trapped and can­not pro­vide any fur­ther state aid to the air­line, as it has re­ceived mil­lions in fund­ing in the past that were mis­man­aged and wasted.

In an an­nounce­ment on Mon­day, the air­line said the deal with Amer­i­can Air­lines will “en­hance the com­pany’s liq­uid­ity for 2015” with flights con­tin­u­ing to Europe’s busiest air­port un­til Septem­ber 13.

It added that it will trans­fer its Lar­naca-Lon­don traf­fic to an­other air­port, prob­a­bly Stansted or Gatwick as of Septem­ber and will change its fre­quency and im­prove flight times.

Pas­sen­gers who have booked tick­ets to Lon­don af­ter Septem­ber 13 will be no­ti­fied by the air­line and their ticket price will be ad­justed, the air­line said.

The unions have op­posed chair­man Tony An­to­niou’s plans to down­size the air­line by clos­ing down routes, shut­ting of­fices and sell­ing off as­sets, say­ing that Lon­don’s Heathrow busi­ness has not been prop­erly utilised.

How­ever, the bank­rupt car­rier’s chair­man is fac­ing mount­ing debts, highly-paid and un­pro­duc­tive ground and air crews, and a plethora of un­nec­es­sary costs that have been piled up by sub­se­quent man­age­ments and se­nior of­fi­cials ap­pointed by govern­ment and po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

An­to­niou re­cently said that an­other op­tion would be to in­crease flights to Lon­don’s al­ter­na­tive Gatwick air­port, while boost­ing the other UK routes pop­u­lar with Bri­tish tourists, such as Birm­ing­ham, Manch­ester, Stansted and Lu­ton.

On the other hand, as of April, Bri­tish Air­ways in­creased its flight sched­ule from Cyprus to­wards two of Lon­don’s prime air­ports: Heathrow and Gatwick.

Now giv­ing trav­ellers the op­tion of 17 flights per week, both in­com­ing and out­go­ing tourism has re­ceived a sig­nif­i­cant boost with more travel op­tions. Upon the re­sump­tion of the Paphos-Gatwick route on the March 30, Bri­tish Air­ways im­me­di­ately pro­ceeded with an in­crease in flights from Lar­naca to Gatwick from three to five times a week.

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