Ryanair has said it is one step closer to taking over Cyprus Airways (CY) after getting through to the second round of bidding for the ailing flag carrier at the weekend, the Irish Times reported on Tuesday.
Quoting the airline’s incoming finance chief Neil Sorahan, the newspaper said Ryanair was informally told on Friday that it was on a shortlist, pushing it through to the second round of the process.
Sorahan however said it was “still a long shot” and that Aegean Airlines was seen as the favourite.
The Irish Time said Ryanair was not offering any cash for the airline, but had told the Cyprus government that if its bid succeeded, it would expand the airline from five aircraft and 700,000 passengers a year to 20 aircraft and three million passengers over five years.
It added that the main attraction for Ryanair was CY’s air operator’s certificate (AOC), which allows it to fly to Israel, Russia and countries around the eastern Mediterranean, where the Irish company was keen to expand.
As representatives from Ryanair and Aegean met with government officiald on Friday, CY employees took to the streets in fear for their future.
The protesters gathered outside the offices of KPMG, consultants to CY and members of the technical committee, early in the morning, before moving to the Finance ministry, where the technical committee overseeing the bidding process met with Ryanair reps.
CY’s future remains in limbo ahead of a European Commission decision on whether amounts in excess of €100m given to the airline by the government in recent years constitutes state aid – forbidden by EU competition law – and must be paid back, a decision that would instantly trigger the company’s insolvency.