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CY, Qatar Airways finalising $20m sale of Heathrow slot (updated)

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Cyprus Airways (CY) said on Wednesday it was in the final stage of a deal with Qatar Airways for the sale of the national carrier’s time slot at London’s Heathrow airport for $20 million (€14.7 million).

The two sides’ legal advisers were in the process of drafting the agreement and further statements will be made after it was finalised, the airline said.

Workers had voiced opposition to the sale in the past.

Pilot union PASYPI said it had written to four ministers – finance, communications, commerce, and labour — asking for financial support to avoid selling the time slot.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, PASYPI said the board wanted to sell one of two time slots at Heathrow because of significant deficits in the “guaranteed” provident fund caused by bad management.

As the main shareholder, the pilots said, the state must find ways to boost the company’s cash flow and avoid the sale.

Flights to London are an important source of income for the airline and link Cyprus with the large Cypriot expat community.

“In our view, the effort to cut expenses and raise revenues must continue so that the airline can return to profitability, without the sale of other assets,” PASYPI said.

The troubled airline is seeking ways to survive, which include implementation of a restructuring plan, the latest in a series.

CY posted losses of €55.8 million for 2012, doubling its 2011 losses of €23.9 million.

Last month, Qatar Airways announced it would start flying to Cyprus’ Larnaca airport starting April 29, 2014.

The airline said it will fly to Larnaca from Doha four times a week.

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