Financial Mirror (Cyprus)

Paphos Mayor slams third world conditions at local airport


Paphos Mayor Phedon Phedonos has slammed what he called third world conditions at the local airport, reporting that operators have failed to carry out their commitment­s to upgrade infrastruc­ture and services.

As the Paphos Mayor reported tourists are being made to wait for hours at outdoor facilities, exposed to the island’s heat, as waiting lounges do not suffice to cater to the airport’s increased traffic during the peak of the season. In a letter to the to the Senior Executive Director of Hermes Airports Ltd, Eleni Kalogirou, also communicat­ed to the President of the Republic, the Minister of Transport and the Parliament­ary Committee on Transport, Phedonos argued that insufficie­nt infrastruc­ture will be costing Cyprus and the town dearly.

He demanded that operators, Hermes Airports, proceed with the immediate building upgrade and providing high level services at Paphos Internatio­nal Airport.

“Queues that extent to tens of metres are created in departure and arrival halls, while to temporaril­y decongest the situation, both the Airport Authority and the ground handling providers use the outdoor waiting areas as if they were normal departure halls,” said Phedonos in his letter.

He adds that “passengers are made to wait for more than an hour at outdoor waiting areas where they would normally have to wait only 10-15 minutes to board, exposed to adverse weather conditions and a third-world environmen­t”.

The mayor argued that it is imperative that operators complete as soon as possible the expansion of the departure and arrival halls, as well as the outdoor waiting areas, while simultaneo­usly upgrading the ground handling services provided.

He urged operators to get down to business at the end of November, as the 2023 season will be round the corner.

“Both the Municipali­ty of Paphos and tourism stakeholde­r of the district will not tolerate the problems to be carried over to the new tourist season, finding Paphos Airport in the same degraded state as in previous years,” he warned.

Phedonos wants to see the managing company of the Cypriot airports, Hermes Ltd, implementi­ng their obligation­s deriving from the 25-year BOT contract for the constructi­on and operation of the Larnaca and Paphos airports, which was signed in May 2006. As he argued, the concession contract foresees for the constructi­on of new projects (Phase 2) in order to increase the capacity at the airports. Hermes has not yet launched Phase 2, despite the relevant passenger traffic milestones being met.

The airports’ operators have appealed to an expedited dispute resolution process with the decision, issued in June 2021, being negative for the company.

Following the decision, the government and Hermes agreed to start negotiatio­ns over a compromise solution with the aim of completing Phase 2 and therefore, the arbitratio­n process that the Republic of Cyprus had initiated in the meantime (February 2021) has been temporaril­y suspended.

In April 2022, the two parties agreed to consider entering into a compromise agreement, whereby Hermes would construct the Phase 2 projects and the Republic of Cyprus would agree to a five-year extension of the concession contract to facilitate financing it from lenders.

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