By Angelos Anastasiou
FORMER chairman of the Cyprus Airways board of directors Tony Antoniou blasted his successor Makis Constantinides on Monday, accusing him of misrepresenting reality on issues of critical importance.
Constantinides’ public remarks on an agreement allegedly signed by Antoniou relating to a settlement between Cyprus Airways and Hermes Airports – a private consortium managing the Larnaca and Paphos airports – were rejected by the former chairman.
“A draft agreement had been prepared but never signed because Hermes Airports demanded the abolishment of legal rights and claims for damages by Cyprus Airways,” Antoniou said.
This followed claims that Constantinides – former chairman of Hermes – had summarily paid €1.8 million out of the cash-strapped airline’s coffers to Hermes for payments scheduled to be made by the end of 2014, which some claimed constituted preferential treatment to his former employers.
Antoniou called on Constantinides to “either make public the agreement he claims I signed, or publicly withdraw his assertions”.
“If others have signed such an agreement after my departure, the Cyprus Airways chairman should say so in public,” he added.
Antoniou said that Constantinides’ claim of dues to Hermes being €5.5 million was false as the real figure was €3.8 million, down to €3.2 million after deducting the charges contested by Cyprus Airways.
“That means that the chairman of Cyprus Airways has waived the claim of €502,500 in self-evidently excess electricity charges in the passengers’ terminal, which were the object of negotiation between Hermes and Swissport,” Antoniou added.
He also commented on Constantinides’ assertion that projected losses for the national carrier for 2014 will be €16 million, instead of the €10 million that Antoniou had estimated before the House watchdog committee last week.
“If losses rose dramatically in recent months, under the new management, reaching €16 million, we do not know,” Antoniou, who had resigned in August, said.
“However, one must keep in mind that, despite operating losses, we had the proceeds from selling the Heathrow time slots deposited in bank accounts, and that money secured the company’s financial viability until the end of 2015.”
He was referring to the controversial sale of Cyprus Airways’ remaining two time slots at Heathrow airport earlier this year – one for €6.5 million and the second for €22 million.