Cyprus Mail

Investigation into Cobalt flight delays

The transport ministry has launched a probe into the latest problems faced by Cyprus-based Cobalt Air after one plane did an emergency landing last week and another was forced to return to Larnaca airport with technical problems, causing flight delays and leaving passengers stranded in airports.

The ministry announced on Monday that it had asked the civil aviation department to “evaluate the incidents”.

“Regarding recent events that may be related to issues of flight safety of companies that have received an air-carrier licence from local authorities, the transport ministry wishes to clarify that it has asked the civil aviation department to evaluate the recent incidents in order to see whether it is necessary to take any additional measures,” the announcement said.

It added that all airline companies, “without any exceptions”, which have received operation licences from the transport ministry have obtained them under the laws and regulations of the European Union.

“The civil aviation department is carrying out periodically all necessary checks relating to flight safety,” the transport ministry said.

Cobalt, which received its operating licence in June and aspires to become Cyprus’ “national carrier” has had a bumpy start with its aircraft presenting a number of problems, causing flight delays due to emergency landings or staying grounded for checks and replacement of parts.

On Sunday a Cobalt air flight that departed for Manchester at 11.10am, returned to Larnaca airport some 50 minutes later after the captain noticed a problem during take-off concerning the response of a sensor during the retraction of the aircraft’s wheels. After replacing the faulty sensor, the flight departed at 6pm.

That flight had already been delayed for five hours, as it was initially scheduled to depart at 6am but the company’s flight schedule was affected by an emergency landing of another Cobalt flight flying from Thessaloniki to Larnaca on Saturday. The plane landed at Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos International airport instead, after encountering cabin decompression problems. Saturday’s flight was with an Airbus 320, operated by Everjets on behalf of Cobalt.

Two weeks ago, Cobalt’s flight from Stansted to Larnaca was delayed by around 30 hours due to a flat tyre.

Many of the teething problems facing the company are down to delays in the arrival of new planes the company ordered, forcing it to outsource flights.

The company insists that safety comes first despite additional costs and delays and that they have instructed their captains to land at any cost at the nearest airport to make necessary checks if they deem it is necessary.

Cobalt, following the transport ministry’s announcement apologised on Monday to all its customers who have been inconvenienced because of the disruptions to its scheduled flights.
The disruptions, Cobalt said, were due to the unusual circumstances with technical problems on two aircraft at the same time.
It added that they have followed successfully all checks, dealt with all issues and resumed all scheduled flights.

“We took care of our passengers up to the point circumstances allowed and unavoidably there have been some cases we could not tend to immediately,” it said.

Cobalt said that it is in contact with those passengers whose transportation is still pending and that they will be compensated for their delayed flights in accordance with EU regulations.

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