CChhaaiirrmmaann qquuiittss aass HHoouussee ttoo ddeebbaattee CCAAIIRR ddeemmiissee oonn DDeecc.. 44
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.