Cyprus Mail

Cobalt commercial licence issue in limbo as authorities vet shareholders

Cobalt, the new Cypriot airline which received its air operator certificate (AOC) on May 18, is still waiting for its commercial licence from Cypriot authorities, six days after it was initially expected to launch its flight programme as authorities are scrutinising the company’s ownership, an executive said.

The Air Transport Licencing Authority which is an independent authority and has the responsibility to certify that the company’s structure is in compliance with European Union rules before issuing Cobalt the commercial licence needed to sell tickets to passengers, is still reviewing the airline’s application filed immediately after receiving its AOC, Philokypros Rousounides, senior vice president of corporate affairs said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “The committee asked the company for additional data and hence the delay”.

“We expect that the whole matter will be settled within few days,” Rousounides said, adding that authorities want to make sure that “European citizens” have a controlling stake in the company.
Cobalt, which in February said that it secured an unspecified amount from a Hong Kong-based investor, is 51-per-cent owned by European shareholders and 49-per-cent by investors from China, Rousounides added.

Alecos Michaelides, the permanent secretary of the transport ministry who also chairs the Air Transport Licencing Authority, declined to comment.

“Investors are displeased,” Rousounides added. “The company loses tens of thousands of euros every day”.

The company, which is in the process of registering its second aircraft and is waiting for the arrival of two more by the end of June, has to cover running expenses related both to its fleet and its staff, including pilots, stewardesses and ground crew, the Cobalt executive said.

According to the website of the Department of Company Registrar and Official Receiver, Cobalt New Age Airlines Group Ltd, with registration number ΗΕ 342344, has €8.2m in authorised share capital consisting of 46,000,000 ordinary shares and 36,000,000 “Class A” shares, with a nominal value of €0.10 each in both cases. In addition, the company has €2.805,000 in issued capital comprising 1,650,000 ordinary shares and 26,400,000 “Class A” shares.

The company’s three shareholders are Pictet Capital Ltd, owner of 808,500 regular shares with registration number ΗΕ 347909, AJ (Cyprus) Holdings Ltd with 808,500 regular shares with registration number ΗΕ 351329, and Balneria Holdings Ltd with 33,000 regular shares and registration number ΗΕ 351319. AJ (Cyprus) Holdings Ltd is in addition the owner of the 26.400,000 issued “Class A” shares, according to the registrar’s website.

The company has seven directors, who are Patrick Thomas Carrol, a citizen of the UK, Chu Fai Chang, with Portuguese citizenship, the Austrian Guenter Eibel, the Chinese Guirong Ji, the Swiss national Urs Meisterhans, the Belgian Jean-Paul Joseph R. Pirson and the company’s chairman Gregory Diakou, a Cypriot national.

Spyros Kokkinos, head of the department of company registrar, said that the department’s role is to determine the identity of directors and shareholders in a company. “We get this data from our computerised system according to the information submitted by the company,” Kokkinos said in a telephone interview. “Whether there is somebody else behind a director or a shareholder, it is something that I cannot know”.

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