As a major tourism stakeholder in Cyprus, Hermes Airports has brought optimal results and improvements through collaboration with other key players in the sector, such as the 2016 benchmark of 9 million passengers coming through the country’s airports, translating into 24.6% growth for Larnaka and 2.6% growth for Pafos airport.
Could you give a brief overview of Hermes Airports and the company’s activities?
Hermes Airports Ltd assumed management and control of Larnaka International Airport and Pafos International Airport on 12 May 2006, under a 25-year Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) concession agreement with the Republic of Cyprus. The new passenger terminal in Pafos opened in November 2008, and in Larnaka a year later. The construction contract is the biggest ever undertaken in the Republic, with the BOT project being the first privatisation of its kind in Cyprus. The two airports offer state-of–the-art facilities, with an emphasis on excellent customer service. The concession agreement with the government is valid until 2031, and as part of it, two new terminal buildings were constructed for a total investment of €650 million. Since the beginning of operations, we have produced material improvements in terms of connectivity and traffic flows to Cyprus.
What are the determining factors in your growth strategy and for increasing passenger arrivals?
Events in the surrounding region over the past year have influenced the growth in passenger numbers, as traffic was directed to safer destinations such as Cyprus. Nevertheless, this is not an exclusive factor, as the air service development at Hermes has been implementing a long devised plan that includes the provision of incentives to airlines that choose Cyprus. We are offering a top-quality tourism product with high international standards in all aspects. The overall combination of our work and the favourable climate, have led to a significant increase in passenger numbers. We have witnessed considerable growth in 2016 that we can split between growth resulting from the entry of new airlines and routes in the market, and growth on existing airlines and routes. In fact, eleven new airlines started operations in Cyprus in 2016 and 21 completely new routes were opened. We received a total 500,000 passengers through these airlines and an additional 1.2 million new passengers through existing airlines and routes. Another determining growth factor in 2016 was the intensification of our direct marketing campaigns with airlines, promoting Cyprus directly to the traveller. One of our main targets for the next years is to increase numbers during ‘off-season’, and we already boast an average 19% increase in winter months.
In addition to the government strategy on tourism, what initiatives are being launched by Hermes Airports to attract more tourism?
Our efforts are in line with Cyprus’ national tourism strategy, with the latest challenge being to promote Cyprus as a year-round destination. Appropriate branding and promotion are essential to achieving this goal. Hermes’ involvement and financial contribution to the national tourism strategy is articulated around a 15-year expansion of tourism with an aim to double tourist arrivals. This will create a need for a larger hotel capacity – a sector in need of foreign investment. Through our promotion efforts, we generally encourage airlines in Cyprus to start new routes with target countries and particularly to launch winter route operations, for which they can benefit from incentives.
How are the airports impacting the local economy and how can they help attract FDI to Cyprus?
It is estimated that about 100 additional jobs are created for each additional flight arriving at Cyprus’ airports. In total, more than 12,700 jobs in the tourism industry across Cyprus are sustained by the operation of Larnaka and Pafos International Airports. With an annual contribution of more than €500 million to the economy, corresponding to approximately 3% of the Cyprus GDP, the two international airports are justifiably considered to be among the major drivers of economic growth in the country and are acknowledged as key generators of thousands of jobs. There is great potential for FDI, and hand-in-hand with the government, we have launched joint tenders regarding land development around the airport areas. There are also opportunities for projects for hangars and maintenance within the airport perimeter.
In terms of economic growth and development, what are your expectations for Cyprus in the coming years?
Personally, I am very optimistic. The Cyprus economy has very good prospects and opportunities for growth. It is already expected to grow by 2.7 % in real terms in 2017, significantly higher than the European average. Cyprus’ strategic location, which connects Europe with the Middle East and Northern Africa, its membership of the European Union and the eurozone, the high level of services, the temperate climate and high standard of living, along with a resilient economy, which is also expected to receive a boost through the exploration of the Cyprus and regional hydrocarbon sources, ensures the necessary environment for turning the island into a hub of development with continuing growth in the years to come, to the benefit of the people living in Cyprus and the companies operating here.
BIO: Eleni Kaloyirou
Eleni Kaloyirou is the CEO of Hermes Airports Ltd, where she leads strategic direction and operations at Cyprus’ two international airports, Larnaka and Pafos. Previously, Eleni served as Executive Manager Business Control and then as CFO of Hermes. She has 30 years of experience mainly in the aviation industry, having served as CFO and later as deputy CEO of Cyprus Airways. She also worked for a property development company and in the accounting profession with KPMG in Cyprus and London. Eleni is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and holds a BA and an MA degree in Economics from Cambridge University.