Airlines ready to fill Cyprus Airways gap
board an Airbus A320, almost a year after it resumed flights to Israel from Athens. It will also take advantage of the Cyprus Airways gap to start three weekly flights from Larnaca to Kiev, a route suspended due to the crisis in Ukraine.
Aegean is keen to operate the Beirut flight from Larnaca, while it plans to add five western European destinations: London Heathrow (a popular route operated directly from Larnaca up until 2012), Paris, Munich, Rome and Milan.
Vasilakis said that from the present ground staff of 20 and air crew of 30, the plan is to quadruple the flight crew to 120, but gradually. Eventually, he said, the Cyprus hub will operate to 25 destinations within a period of five to six years.
Another four new destinations are expected to be announced and the changes have to take place by February 9, or the government will award these routes to others.
The state is also looking to revive destinations such as Rome, for which Aegean has shown interest, while Lufthansa wants to enhance its Frankfurt and Munich routes, and possibly add Berlin.
The ANT1 report also suggested that the government will put out tenders for the Larnaca-Brussels route within 15 days, for which the winning carrier could receive an EU subsidy, as it is a loss-making route, yet deemed essential. The TV report suggested that Air Brussels has already expressed interest.
Meanwhile, the government intends to allow a new airline to be set up, but possibly by private investors, after it bought the Cyprus Airways brand name and “flying moufflon” logo for EUR 1.5 mln a month ago. Aegean said it might be interested to buy them.
Meanwhile, the airline’s staff will receive redundancy pay of two months’ wages, and will share a package of EUR 25 mln, with each worker expected to receive an average of EUR 48,000. The workforce includes 62 pilots, 130 cabin crew, 67 in catering and support, 75 engineers and 226 office and ground personnel.
A receiver will be appointed within three weeks who will review the available assets, such as the EUR 18 mln in cash from the sale of the last Heathrow airport slot, a single aircraft and a 25% stake in the ground handling company Swissport Cyprus.
Meanwhile, for the 4-5,000 passengers still booked on Cyprus Airways over the next few days, local travel company Top Kinisis was appointed as ticketing agent by the government and ordered to compensate or re-issue travel packages. The company said it has already received 18,000 calls locally and from abroad and that 4,000 passengers were reissued tickets.
The agreement is valid until February 9, during which time a further 7,000 passengers will be accommodated.
Passengers still booked on Cyprus Airways flights should call Top Kinisis on the local hotline 77787878 or +357 22869999 from overseas.
Meanwhile, Bank of Cyprus said that if tickets were purchased with the bank’s cards and the alternative arrangement with Top Kinisis are not satisfactory, they should follow the procedure described on the bank’s web page www.bankofcyprus.com.cy or call 1Bank at 800 00 800.
Furthermore, the bank said that its collaboration with Cyprus Airways regarding the “Sunmiles American Express” scheme is terminated immediately and all cards transferred to the bank’s “Cashback American Express” scheme.
Meanwhile, Aegean said that frequent flyers on Cyprus Airways’ Elite programme who wish to transfer to the Greek carrier’s Miles&Bonus scheme by the end of February, will get a 50% bonus on air miles for the whole of 2015.