Cyprus Mail

CY could be in the black by 2015 if plan works

LOSS-MAKING national carrier Cyprus Airways (CY) will start turning a profit by 2015 if the latest restructuring plan prepared for the airline is given the thumbs up in Brussels, according to reports.

Local daily Politis yesterday reported on details of the restructuring plan submitted to the EU’s Competition Commissioner last week, revealing the hopes and aspirations of the CY board.

According to the paper, implementation of the restructuring plan will cost around €54m, half of which is expected to come from private investment.

However, this investment can only be made if the European Commission approves the restructuring plan and lets the government off the hook for previous assistance provided to the ailing airline, which Brussels, on the face of it, considers a violation of state aid rules.

Last week, CY chairman Antonis Antoniou said he expected the response from Brussels to come in October, after which the airline will know where it stands and can proceed accordingly.

The latest restructuring plan, prepared by KPMG London, reportedly includes the downsizing of the CY fleet to five A320 planes, plus a sixth A320 to be used as a back-up.
It also provides for further staff layoffs, beyond the 490 employees the airline is already committed to losing this year.

Antoniou has recently suggested a further 117 employees could go in 2014, taking staff numbers to 385, from the 1,000-odd working at the company in recent years.

The reduction implies that the company’s in-house catering department will be outsourced under the new plan.

According to Politis, for those that remain, they would have to accept a 10 per cent wage reduction, and subsequent freeze in wages until 2018. At the same time, the airline’s contribution to the workers’ provident fund will be reduced from 9 per cent to 5 per cent.

Under the plan, as reported yesterday, the airline estimates, assuming economic conditions remains the same, that losses in 2014 will be limited to €800,000. From 2015, CY expects to turn a new leaf, making a profit of €900,000, while in 2016, its profits are expected to soar to €4.8m, and the same for 2017.

In 2018, the company will be flying high with profits forecast at €6.3m.

The above calculations, however, are based on the Cyprus problem remaining unsolved. Should there be a solution to the decades-old division, the ban on flights over Turkish airspace will be lifted, and CY will no longer get around €5m a year in compensation from the government.

Also, it would remain to be seen what kind of impact the opening up of Tymbou (Ercan) airport to international flights would have on CY, in terms of the extra competition that this would likely bring to airlines offering flights to and from Cyprus.

Asked about the content of the restructuring plan, the CY leadership yesterday said it would make no comment on the matter.

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