By Evie Andreou
In the long term, airfare prices will be affected by the closing down of Cyprus Airways (CY), the head of the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA) Dinos Kakkouras said on Wednesday.
Kakkouras said that even though other airlines announced they would take over some of CY’s destinations, this would not happen until March or April and that had affected the current winter season.
“Our concern was to increase flights this year, and not just replace the Cyprus Airways ones,” Kakkouras said.
He added that airfares to central Europe and Europe in general were pricey enough due to accessibility issues and inadequate seat numbers – hence increased prices.
“Other companies will fly to some destinations Cyprus Airways used to fly to, while there is no word yet concerning other destinations like Amsterdam,” Kakkouras said.
The closing down of the CY would be a huge blow to winter tourism, the consumers association said, adding that the government would be forced to pay handsome subsidies to travel agents and airlines to lure them into flying to Cyprus for the winter, as the island would now be completely dependent on them. “Each time an [airline] company leaves the market, competition takes a blow with negative consequences for prices. It seems that what happened in the case of Olympic Airways… when it was bought by Aegean Airlines… an increase in airfares that is…will be repeated…” an announcement from the association said.
Kakkouras however, believes that this will not be the case since the budget for subsidies had been fixed, though he said better management of the available funds may be required.
Aegean Airline’s deputy Eftyxhios Vasilakis when asked about prices on Tuesday said the airline operated within a highly competitive market and that failure to adhere to consumer needs would be devastating.
“The one who survives in the free market is the one provides consumers with the best combination of quality, value and cost. … if we fail to provide our consumer with the best we have to offer, they will turn elsewhere,” he said.
Aegean announced new destinations for Cyprus such as Kiev, Paris, Munich, Milan, Rome and Beirut including Heathrow. CY ceased its flights to Heathrow in September opting to use Stansted Airport instead.
The Greek airline, whose new flight plan is expected to begin by the end of March, will also be relying heavily on flights to Greece, increasing their daily flights by 60 per cent.
Romanian low cost carrier Blue Air also announced that it will set up an operations centre in Cyprus on January 19, flying to Athens seven times a week and three times a week to Thessaloniki.