Cyprus air­ports “too ex­pen­sive”

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The out­spo­ken chief ex­ec­u­tive of Europe’s budget gi­ant said Ryanair can step in to take over the gap left be­hind if trou­bled Cyprus Air­ways closes, but sug­gested it would be bet­ter if the is­land’s na­tional car­rier kept on fly­ing.

Michael O’Leary told a press brief­ing in Ni­cosia to launch its new flights to eight Euro­pean des­ti­na­tions that Ryanair will deliver over 550,000 cus­tomers to Cyprus, even though air­port fees in Lar­naca and Paphos are much higher than oth­ers, even dou­ble the tar­iff of Berlin air­port.

He said that these high costs have also played a role in Cyprus Air­ways beign in trou­ble which has seen its traf­fic re­duced from 1.2 mln pas­sen­ger seats to just 700,000 this year.

“We will prob­a­bly ex­press in­ter­est in Cyprus [af­ter the govern­ment in­vited bids] but we would rather tell the Cyprus govern­ment that we can fill any pos­si­ble vac­uum that may be cre­ated, as long as air­port fees come down,” O’Leary said.

He ex­plained that pas­sen­ger traf­fic at both air­ports was flat at just above 7.2 mln recorded in 2008 and dis­puted the ex­cuse of the eco­nomic cri­sis as a rea­son for a drop on traf­fic, even though he ad­mit­ted that the num­bers were down in Lar­naca but up in Paphos, due mainly to the in­crease from Ryanair.

“Our plans are to in­crease Cyprus’ ca­pac­ity to 2-3 mln,” he said, adding that there are sev­eral new fea­tures and im­prove­ments on board all air­craft, with the fleet be­ing boosted by an additional 180 air­craft start­ing to be de­liv­ered in two months’ time.

O’Leary said that Septem­ber is also sig­nif­i­cant as the new busi­ness model will be in full swing, in­clud­ing fast track board­ing, re­served seat­ing in the front, flex­i­bil­ity on tick­et­ing and reis­su­ing.

With the aver­age ticket cost out of Cyprus at around 50 eu­ros, the Ryanair boss said he has set his sights on ex­pand­ing east­wards into the Mid­dle East where there is grow­ing de­mand for the air­line.

As of this week, Ryanair op­er­ates eight routes out of its Paphos hub, in­clud­ing one new daily route to and from Athens, as the air­line grows by 9% in Cyprus this year.

The other routes out of Paphos Brussels, Chania, Kau­nas, Lon­don, Manch­ester, Rome and Thes­sa­loniki.

Since its first flight in April 2012, Ryanair has car­ried over 1 mln cus­tomers to and from Paphos and the air­line cel­e­brated this mile­stone, as well as the launch of its Paphos win­ter sched­ule by re­leas­ing 100,000 seats for sale across its Euro­pean net­work, at prices from 19.99 eu­ros for travel in Septem­ber, Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber. These low fare seats are avail­able for book­ing un­til mid­night Thurs­day (July 24). In Cyprus for the first time, Michael O’Leary said “Cypriot con­sumers and vis­i­tors al­ready choose Ryanair for our low fares, in­dus­try leading cus­tomer ser­vice and great route choice.”

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