Cyprus Mail

Open skies moving ahead on multiple fronts, minister says

Agreements have been signed and more are on the way to boost the island’s air connectivity in the wake of the demise of Cyprus Airways, Transport Minister Marios Demetriades said on Monday.

Plans include a new Larnaca-Brussels flight and a new round of negotiations with Russian carriers, he said.

Demetriades was speaking at a conference on the action plan for open skies to attract new airlines. Since Cyprus Airways closed in January this year, seat capacity to the island has already increased by around 60,000 seats, which has more than plugged the gap, but there are plans for expanding the open skies policy on multiple fronts.

“The goal is to achieve liberalisation with a number of third countries and to remove all existing limitations in relation to the number of designated airlines, frequencies, aircraft types and loads,” Demetriades said.

So far he said Cyprus has signed a new agreement with Bahrain, completed an agreement with Oman which is expected to be signed soon, and also has an agreement with Egypt at an advanced stage,

“Negotiations have also begun with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, India, China, Cuba, North Africa and Uzbekistan,” the minister said. Parliament has also ratified an open skies deal with Jordan.

For flights between Israel and Cyprus, Demetriades said the existing open skies agreement would be gradually expanded after commercial rights were granted from both Paphos and Larnaca airports to Ryanair, Wizzair and Aegean, the latter of which has also been granted rights for Qatar, the UAE and Ukraine.

Competition for the new Larnaca-Brussels route would be announced in Europe in a matter of days, the minister added.

Demetriades also said that on July 14, a new round of negotiations would begin with Russia to close the gap when it came to scheduled flights, as most seats from Russia are charter packages. The minister  said the deal involves discussing the possibility of leaving up to 50 seats per charter flight, which could be booked as scheduled seats.

A working group with Demetriades as chairman was recently set up to examine the potential and the challenges to air connectivity in the wake of Cyprus Airways closure. The group would be making a number of recommendations shortly, the minister said.




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