Authorities approved the issue of an air operator certificate to Cobalt, a Cyprus-based airline, the transport minister Marios Demetriades said on Thursday.
Earlier, Cobalt, which aims to operate as a low cost-airline, said that the department decided to issue the certificate, which the company requires to launch its flight schedule in June, after completing on Wednesday a first test flight from Larnaca to the airport of Heraklion, in Crete, with a “Cyprus-registered Airbus A320” -thus far Cobalt’s sole aircraft.
“We are proud to play our part in Cyprus’ long aviation heritage,” Cobalt chairman Gregory Diakou said, according to the statement. “The thousands of messages of support that we have received during the recent weeks from Cypriots here and abroad proves that there is tremendous enthusiasm backing Cobalt as the country’s new national carrier”.
The Department of Civil Aviation’s decision to issue Cobalt the air operator certificate “marks the renaissance of the Cypriot aviation industry,” Cobalt said citing its chairman.
The airline plans to launch its operations with flights to Athens on June 1, before the addition of three more aircraft later in June allow the company to include airports in the UK and elsewhere in Europe in its flight programme, Diakou said.
The company, which announced on Tuesday a ground handling agreement with Swissport covering 11 airports which Cobalt plans to include in its flight network, also plans to extend its flight programme to destinations in Israel, Lebanon, Russia, Iran and Egypt, Diakou said.
“Since the demise of Cyprus Airways, our national air traffic rights to these countries have been lying dormant,” the airline’s chairman said. “These are significant economic assets that we must now utilise in order to support the development of the Cypriot tourist industry and the broader economy”.
“Prior to our first official flight, we have generated more than 100 new jobs locally and hundreds more will follow,” Diakou continued. “Cyprus needs and deserves a strong home carrier with global ambitions. We are that airline and that is our ultimate goal”.
Demetriades, who was talking to reporters after a meeting of the council of ministers, said that air traffic rose in the first four months of 2016 (an annual) 12 per cent after rising in 2015 3.6 per cent, prompting companies to deploy more aircraft in Cyprus.
Blue Air, the Romanian airline which immediately jumped in to link Cyprus with Greece after Cyprus Airways ran out of cash in January 2015, stationed a second aircraft in Cyprus, Demetriades said according to a statement emailed by the Press and Information Office.
In June, direct flights to Iran will be launched he said, without elaborating further.