THE ad hoc House committee that is looking into the collapse of Cyprus Airways is one of the worst jokes ever played by the political parties. It is a salutary reminder that in our country politics is theatre, the primary objective of which is to fool or mislead people. It is a rather crude way of our politicians covering up their poor judgment, incompetence and corrupt ways and deflecting attention away from their culpability.
Do we really need an investigation to establish why Cyprus Airways went bankrupt? Is there anyone apart from our political leaders who does not know why the airline collapsed? Surely, the people responsible for the bankruptcy should have known the reasons why it happened. They do, but by staging this sham investigation, presumably they hope to convince the more naive citizens that they had nothing to do with it, because, in theory, nobody that causes a car crash would demand an investigation into the causes of the crash.
After Wednesday’s meeting, the ad hoc committee should dissolve because the two former chief executives who appeared before the deputies gave all the reasons for the airline’s demise. Christos Kyriakides said the company was never restructured because the airline was used as a vehicle for exercising government policy instead of as a business; appointments to the board were based on political criteria and the chairmen always behaved like executives despite being clueless about the airline industry. Unions considered the company an extension of the public sector, continuously securing big pay rises and increasing labour costs disproportionately, he said.
Demetris Pantazis repeated most of what his former colleague said adding that prohibitive labour costs were not only the fault of the unions but also of the governments and the political parties that allowed them to operate in this way. Those are the reasons for the airline’s collapse. It was a company run by incompetent appointees of government and by greedy union bosses backed by all the parties. A company run on political rather than business criteria was doomed. If the government had not bailed it out so many times it would have closed down a decade sooner and saved the taxpayer a couple of hundred million euros.
And this is the fate awaiting Cyta and the EAC if they stay in government hands, as the unions and the political parties have been demanding. The former is constantly losing market share while the latter will not be able to compete once other firms embark on power production. They need to be privatised to avoid the same fate as Cyprus Airways and spare us another House investigation into the causes of their bankruptcy in the future.