By George Psyllides
The government on Wednesday reshuffled the board of the island’s ailing national carrier, appointing three civil servants in an effort to make it more functional.
The move followed the departure of chairman Makis Constantinides who resigned because board members failed to show up to discuss a plan he had drafted in a bid to rescue Cyprus Airways (CY).
Deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said the “radical restructure of the board” was deemed necessary “because of the serious dysfunction encountered recently … but mainly because of the need to efficiently handle the difficult situation the company faces.”
Vice chairman Marinos Kallis will take over as chairman while Andreas Papadopoulos and Giorgos Kallis remain as members of the board.
They will be joined by three public servants – Antonis Lemesianos, from the communications ministry, Giorgos Panteli, finance ministry, and Constantinos Karagiorgis, commerce ministry – who will replace Andreas Petrou, Panicos Himonas, Demetris Yiannakis, and Charalambos Gavriel.
It is understood that the board is preparing a new rescue plan, hoping to implement it with the help of the personnel.
The spokesman blamed the previous administration for the airline’s dire condition.
“Let me remind that the biggest problem currently faced by Cyprus Airways is because other people had granted a huge subsidy without the approval of the (EU’s) competition commission,” Papadopoulos said.
The company is awaiting the EU’s decision on whether the subsidy violated state aid rules. A decision to return the €75 million would mean the end of the company.
The airline is set to post a €16 million loss this year.
Two airlines, Aegean and Ryanair, have showed interest but talks do not seem to be going anywhere.
CY pilots meanwhile, renewed their call for the resignation of the finance and communications ministers, accusing them of supporting the interests of other companies.
The pilots said the procedure to find a strategic investor had been manipulated with the aim of closing CY and delivering their assets, almost free, to the two foreign companies they had selected, without even employing any workers.
For Archbishop Chrysostomos the solution appeared to be much simpler.
“Governments should look at the good of the country and should not waste money, and should not hire mostly useless cronies,” he said.