Air­lines ready to fill Cyprus Air­ways gap

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.bankof­ 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.

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