Air­line sec­tor needs to take off


Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

This week marks a his­tor­i­cal turn­ing point for Cyprus in gen­eral and the travel in­dus­try in par­tic­u­lar.

The new Cypriot na­tional car­rier, Cobalt, sees the ar­rival of two of its ini­tial fleet of air­craft and the launch of a fa­mil­iari­sa­tion trip to Athens for guests and as­so­ciates from the tourism in­dus­try.

Fur­ther­more, with at least an­other three air­craft ar­riv­ing by the end of sum­mer, Cyprus once again has the op­por­tu­nity to re­po­si­tion it­self as a re­gional trans­port hub.

This is some­thing that never hap­pened dur­ing the glory days of Cyprus Air­ways, as other in­ter­ests and po­lit­i­cal in­fight­ing was a con­stant stum­bling block that pre­vented the Fly­ing Mouf­flon from truly spread­ing its wings.

Now, a new air­line plans to ex­pand its route net­work to a dozen short-haul des­ti­na­tions, all on pri­vate ini­tia­tive and with­out the in­ter­ven­tion of trade unions that had be­come the anath­ema of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment in the past two decades.

If the govern­ment and all po­lit­i­cal par­ties want to see a real re­vival of the econ­omy, then they should put aside their petty dif­fer­ences and work to­wards cre­at­ing jobs, es­pe­cially where there is great de­mand.

The fact that six con­trol coun­ters at Paphos air­port are still un­manned, lead­ing to hour-long queues just to get your pass­port checked, is caus­ing ir­repara­ble dam­age to our im­age as a tourist des­ti­na­tion. This is a mat­ter that should have been re­solved with an ex­ec­u­tive de­ci­sion three months ago, when the prob­lem first erupted. Let­ting it drag on for so long is ma­li­cious, to say the least.

If Cyprus ex­pects to host a record num­ber of tourist ar­rivals this year, half­way be­tween the 2.5 mln and 3 mln fig­ure, then it ought to get its act to­gether and of­fer an im­pec­ca­ble ser­vice. The fact that air traf­fic con­trollers were on the verge this week of declar­ing a fresh strike is sim­ply the fault of the out­go­ing in­com­pe­tent par­lia­ment that dragged its feet on ban­ning labour ac­tion in es­sen­tial ser­vices, sim­ply to se­cure votes.

The new par­lia­ment should show guts from day one and pass the long over­due law be­fore the tourist sea­son kicks in and the econ­omy is once again held hostage to union an­tics.

On the other hand, with Li­mas­sol port fi­nally find­ing a spon­sor, the trans­port and cargo sec­tor should once again pick up.

And if the Trans­port Min­is­ter sees that air­lines are not util­is­ing their air op­er­at­ing li­censes to non-EU des­ti­na­tions, he should re­call them im­me­di­ately and of­fer them to more com­pe­tent air­lines, as such ac­tiv­ity will in­crease turnover at Lar­naca air­port and trans­form it into a proper tran­sit hub, one that will cre­ate more jobs and ben­e­fit all as­pects of the lo­cal econ­omy.

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