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Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

A par­lia­men­tary hear­ing post­poned dis­cus­sion on the fate of trou­bled Cyprus Air­ways (CAIR) to the House ple­nary ses­sion next Thurs­day, De­cem­ber 4, with for­mer chair­man Tony An­to­niou ac­cus­ing his suc­ces­sor of ly­ing about the air­line’s fi­nances and Makis Con­stan­tinides an­nounc­ing that he had al­ready re­signed from the chair on Fri­day.

Con­stan­tinides had said that he was try­ing to put to­gether a res­cue plan but that the rest of the board was not co­op­er­at­ing with him, so he sub­mit­ted his ideas to the na­tional car­rier’s ul­ti­mate owner, the Fi­nance Min­is­ter, to­gether with his let­ter of res­ig­na­tion. The state owns 96% of the shares and has ap­pointed two boards in two years.

CAIR, whose suc­ces­sive ad­min­is­tra­tions have cow­ered in front of union threats over the past decades, has not re­duced staff num­bers or spun off its cater­ing unit, de­spite rec­om­men­da­tions from EU reg­u­la­tors.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s body for com­pe­ti­tion is also pon­der­ing whether the nearly 100 mln euros granted to the con­stantly loss-mak­ing air­line in guar­an­tees and sub­si­dies was il­le­gal, which would bring the company to its knees forc­ing it to fold.

The air­line is al­ready op­er­at­ing with a re­duced fleet of just six air­craft and a poorly route net­work of a dozen des­ti­na­tions, but still main­tains a pro­por­tion­ally ex­trav­a­gant num­ber of more than 500 staff, many of whom paid gen­er­ously de­spite re­ports of cost cut­ting.

The EC’s in­de­ci­sion has also thwarted bids by Greece’s Aegean Air­lines and Europe’s lead­ing low-cost op­er­a­tor Ryanair, to take over Cyprus Air­ways and re­struc­ture it into a re­gional car­rier.

CAIR’s losses for 2014 are de­bated be­tween EUR 10 and 16 mln, even after sell­ing off time slots at London’s Heathrow air­port, be­fore mov­ing its UK base to the lower cost Stansted.

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