By Annette Chrysostomou
The lack of a cheap, regular public bus service to Larnaca and Paphos airports means 53 per cent of Cyprus residents still rely on relatives or friends to drop them off and pick them up from Larnaca and Paphos airports.
For those who don’t, the options are limited to catching the airport shuttle service, catching a taxi or leaving your car in airport parking or private parking nearby.
Taxis are obviously the most expensive way to go; a trip can cost as much as a flight. If you are a single traveller going from Nicosia to Paphos, the charge is at least €100, and this is one way and during daytime. At night prices for a single trip go up by €15. A journey from Nicosia to Larnaca airport will set you back €40-45. With the hefty price tag comes convenience. Passengers are transported from their doorstep right to the airport’s entrance and there is no need to worry about parking.
For those who don’t mind driving and do have a car an easy option is to take it and park at the airport. The cost for parking can be high for long periods but it is not exorbitant for shorter periods. This month, for example, parking at Hermes Larnaca car park is €30.69 for one week for an uncovered space. In Paphos, Hermes currently has a special summer deal on offer, €24 per week.
These prices are relatively low due to the competition of various other parking places around the airports. These privately owned parking places are slightly more inconvenient as they require transfer to the airport, but this usually takes only a few minutes, plus it is offset by the fact that other perks are on offer. They are usually guarded around the clock and the vehicles are safe behind high fences. Some also offer to clean or service your car as part of the deal.
Since 2008, the privately owned airport shuttle service Kapnos has broadened the options for travellers. Kapnos operates a service from Nicosia to both airports, charging €8 per person to Larnaca and €15 to Paphos and offers 50 trips a day. For single or small groups of travellers especially, who can’t share the price of a taxi fare with three others, the shuttle service deal is a good one.
However, the buses will not come to your home, but start from a central bus station in Nicosia, close to the Philoxenia conference centre. This has the advantage that buses are usually on time, as they go directly to the airport and don’t spend time going from door to door. But a traveller needs to pay for a taxi to get there or find someone to take them. Kapnos will, however, pick up for free groups of more than four people in Nicosia and take them to the bus station to get the shuttle.
Manager Pambos Kapnos said the company is doing well after the crisis in 2013, but there are no plans to expand to other towns as there is another provider in Limassol and because of the seasonality. The route from Limassol to Larnaca is covered by Limassol Airport Express which offers a similar service to Kapnos.
“I use the bus because I usually travel alone,” Maria Constantinou from Nicosia said, “people are busy so this way I only need someone to take me to the bus stop. I don’t have to worry about parking. The buses are very comfortable and punctual. The driver might wait five minutes for someone who is late but not longer.”
But most of us or 53 per cent still rely on generous friends or relatives, according to a survey conducted for Hermes airport in March 2016.
“There is always someone to drive me to the airport,” 52-year-old Lydia Charalambous said, “especially in the summer when my kids are not at university. This is when I usually travel.”
Only 21 per cent of travellers use the airport shuttle services or taxis while 25 per cent use their car and leave it at or near the airport while they are away.
Of those who use long term parking 16 per cent frequent the Hermes parking while nine per cent visit the other parking places. Makis Georgiou is one of them.
“I have never used a taxi since I have been broke,” he said, “I am not prepared to pay €100 for a taxi. Anyway, the distance from Nicosia allows you to go by car. I use the car parks outside the airports. It’s cheaper, safer and I got a car wash last time I was in Paphos.”
Thirty-six to 45-year-old travellers are the most likely to travel in their own cars, only 36 per cent of them are taken to the airport and the same amount travels by car.
Younger people aged 18 to 25 are mostly transported by others. According to the research 76 per cent of them are routinely taken by friends and relatives, whereas only six per cent of persons in this age group arrive at the airport in their own vehicle.
“My parents prefer to take me to the airport,” 22-year-old Agni Theodoulou commented, “they stay and sit with me until I leave. It’s like a family bond.”
This is in line with the study which indicates that 27 per cent of family or friends who take the young passengers use the short term parking, contrasting with an average of only eight per cent of all those who take friends or family members.