Already, the private-owned company has hired 20 Cypriot pilots, mostly former Cyprus Airways personnel, and has so far trained 16 cabin crew at its academy in Larnaca.
“Our pilots were sought out by airlines all over the world, with their skills being recognised among the best in the sector. With the collapse of Cyprus Airways, they had no choice but to turn to other markets. Now they are coming home to build the new national airline,” said Cobalt’s Chairman Gregory Diacou.
Apart from Cobalt’s Western Europe destinations, Diacou said that there were now firm plans to operate a daily schedule to Tehran this summer.
“We are delighted that the government has been able to negotiate a liberalised air services agreement with Iran. Today, we are stating our intention to take full advantage of the new rights now made available to Cypriot airlines. We hope that the government will soon be able to negotiate liberalised agreements with other countries in the Middle East, where a single market for aviation is already in place.”
He added that as the airline increased its investment in the Cypriot economy, it looked to the government and to the airport operator to provide a level playing field for competition.
“We are not asking for special treatment - but it should be recognised that Cyprus needs its own home airline. Where foreign airlines have secured traffic rights - and then failed to operate flights - it is reasonable to expect that these rights (which represent a vital national asset) should also come back home to support the Cypriot airline.”
He said that by summer 2017 the Cobalt network would be extended with the introduction of long range A330 aircraft that can connect Cyprus directly with destinations in China, India, South Africa and North America.
“By the time we launch this spring, we will have trained a total of 60 new crew, the vast majority of which will be from Cyprus. We are also extremely happy and proud to be able to keep our highly trained people with very important aviation skills in Cyprus,” Diacou said.
“We are pursuing even more airframes. Our goal is to launch operations to 16 cities, with 5 to 7 airframes. We will be flying to Greek destinations on a very frequent basis, particularly to Athens,” Diacou added.
He said that Cobalt would consider establishing a base in Greece later on this year. “We feel that we can serve the travelling public even better by basing aircraft at both ends of our key routes,” Cobalt’s Chairman stated.
“Our basic product model will be low-cost plus. We aim to treat our passengers as valued customers and we will offer genuine value for money. The increase in airfares for flights between Cyprus and Greece over the past year is a major point of concern to the travelling public. We will be aggressive in serving this key market,” Diacou concluded.
Source: Financial Mirror