By Constantinos Psillides
ALL fifteen companies that submitted non-binding expressions of interest in Cyprus Airways must submit their business proposal by Thursday, Communication and Works minister Marios Demetriades said on Monday.
The minister said that all business plans will be evaluated by a ministerial committee and a shortlist will be compiled. Companies that make the shortlist will then be asked to file binding proposals, the minister added.
The state invited companies to submit expressions two months ago. It owns about 94 per cent of Cyprus Airways, a carrier which has struggled to survive against cheaper fare competitors and has been loss-making for years despite several attempts at a turnaround.
“We are hoping that by the end of September we will have the best possible solution,” Demetriades told the press after a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades. Asked if any decisions were made, Demetriades said that nothing has been decided yet. “There is process that is currently in its second phase. Nothing more.”
According to Demetriades, the government signed non-disclosure agreements with all 15 companies.
Asked if any company is ahead on the race to own Cyprus Airways, given that the minister met on Friday with representatives from RyanAir and on Monday with people from Aegean Airlines, Demetriades said that no one is receiving preferential treatment.
“This is not a case of someone leading the race. There is a proper process in place and we will follow it to the letter,” assured the minister.
Meanwhile, Makis Constantinides, the former permanent secretary of the communications and works ministry is tipped to be the new chairman of the ailing airline, after Tony Antoniou resigned at the weekend over claims he had charged personal expenses on the airline and had not followed proper procedures when assigning a project.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, President Nicos Anastasiades had sounded out Constantinides about the job and he has reportedly accepted. The Cabinet is expected to make its decision and officially announce the name of the new chairman on Wednesday.
Through his position at the ministry, Constantinides has extensive experience in the aviation sector.
Antoniou’s resignation was accepted by Anastasiades despite a probe finding nothing incriminating against the outgoing chairman, though it had been determined that proper procedures when assigning a project had not been followed to the letter because the relevant article had been misinterpreted.