articles | 13 January 2015

Aegean and Blue Air to fill Cyprus Airways gap

Aegean Airlines and Blue Air recently announced substantial expansion in operations to and from the island, in an attempt to profit form the market vacuum left by the former national carrier.

According to Aegean Airlines deputy head Eftyxhios Vasilakis, the company is looking to almost triple its operation on the island – from 500,000 passengers annually to 1.5 million – adding 13 destinations to its flight plan and increasing the number of planes stationed on the island from one to four.

Asked whether this would be accompanied by an increase in fares, Vasilakis said that the airline operates within a highly competitive market and that failure to adhere to consumer needs would be devastating.

“The one who survives in the free market is the one provides consumers with the best combination of quality, value and cost. Aegean isn’t the only company that operates in Cyprus. Cypriot consumers have a large variety of options as to which airline they want to travel with. If we fail to provide our consumer with the best we have to offer, they will turn elsewhere,” he said.

Vasilakis said the company will be looking to hire local staff to cover their operational needs. He noted they will be hiring mostly cabin crew and pilots.

The Greece-based airline currently employs 50 people at its Cyprus base. Vasilakis said the company is looking to increase that number by 90. Asked whether they will be hiring former workers of Cyprus Airways, Vasilakis explained that it is good business practice to hire local, experienced staff but pointed out that it will largely depend on whether the company risk pays off.

Aegean also announced new destinations for Cyprus, including Heathrow. Cyprus Airways ceased its flights to Heathrow in September – opting to use Stansted Airport instead – following the sale of three timeslots the company held for years. Vasilakis admitted that acquiring a timeslot for Heathrow was expensive but said it is of paramount importance for the company to offer its clients a gateway to destinations outside Europe.

The airline will also be relying heavily on flights to Greece, increasing their daily flights by 60%.

Other new destinations will includes Kiev, Paris, Munich, Milan, Rome and Beirut.

The new flight plan is expected to commence by the end of March.
Asked whether Aegean is interested in partnering with the state to establish a new company, Vasilakis said the company will wait for the government to put forth a proposal.

Meanwhile, Romanian low cost carrier Blue Air also announced an expansion to its operations. The company will set up an operations centre in Cyprus on January 19, flying to Athens seven times a week and three times a week to Thessaloniki.

In a statement, operations manager for Blue Air Tudor Constantinescu said the company also plans to expand to other destinations from their Cyprus base.

Cyprus Airways, the island’s national carrier for 67 years closed down last Friday after a decision by the EU commission declared €102 million given to it in state aid was illegal, ordering the company to return €66 million.

Unable to do so, the company was deemed unviable and ceased all operations immediately.

Source: Cyprus Mail

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