Cyprus Mail

Desperate unions make last-ditch effort to halt CY sale

By Constantinos Psillides

THE only way for Cyprus Airways (CY) to continue to operate is for the European Commission to approve the airline’s restructuring plan, its unions said on Wednesday after a meeting with Finance minister Harris Georgiades.

The union leaders said that the minister told them he would increase his efforts to try and secure a restructuring plan that would create new prospects for the company, its employees and the country.

SEK union’s Andreas Elia said that if the EC approves a rescue plan, state aid will no longer be a burden for any investor.

PEO’s Antonis Neophytou said that they also discussed the frustration of the employees since the interest of the strategic investors seems to be restricted to taking over the government’s stake and the company’ s name and does not secure the continuation of the airline’s operations.

The unions also want Attorney-general Costas Clerides to step in and put an end to the company’s sale, claiming that this is “rigged and illegal.”

The government is currently in a process of selecting a strategic investor to take over the ailing carrier, having unofficially narrowed the interested parties to two companies: Ryanair and Aegean Air.

Having completed a round of meetings with all parliamentary parties on Wednesday, the unions claim that the state – despite being the major shareholder with 93.67 per cent stake – has no right “to solely negotiate on behalf of the company. Only the board of directors has the authority to do so,” said the unions’ statement.

The unions also claim that the state stands to lose millions if the deal to sell CY goes through. In a statement issued last week, the unions claimed that the state would lose a total of €302m, mainly in severance pay for laid off staff and taxes not collected by CY operations.

Despite arguing a massive blow to the country’s economy if the national carrier closes down, data released by the Finance Ministry showed that CY’s market share for 2014 is only 10 per cent.

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