Minister sees no serious interest in Cyprus Airways
NICOSIA (AFP) – The Cypriot government said yesterday it has yet to receive any serious interest in Cyprus Airways, four months after launching a search for investors in the struggling airline. Communications Minister Marios Demetriades appeared to dismiss interest from Ireland’s Ryanair and Greece’s Aegean Airlines, which have been holding talks with his government. “It was an open and transparent process which, unfortunately, showed that there is no significant interest,” Demetriades told reporters. “We have stated that we are ready to listen in the event that there is a serious investor for Cyprus Airways,” he added. Budget airline Ryanair and Aegean were the remaining suitors from an initial list of 14 when the process was launched in July. The interested parties are reportedly concerned about a European Commission in- vestigation to determine if the Cypriot government breached EU state aid rules through its support for the airline. Demetriades said there was a “danger” the airline could be forced to close if the EC decides Cyprus broke the rules by giving it with a 31million-euro capital increase and 73-million-euro rescue loan. The Cyprus Airways board was working on a backup plan which reportedly would see the carrier reduced to three aircraft and its staff cut to 230 from the current 560. “The position of the government is that a strategic investor is needed but the results of the company at this time are not satisfactory and it cannot be characterized as viable. So we need a strategic investor,” said Demetriades.