Despite a host of domestic and external challenges, air traffic to and from Cyprus has gone up by 45 per cent during the past five years, Minister of Transport, Communications and Works Marios Demetriades said on Tuesday.
He was speaking at a news conference to present an overview of his ministry’s achievements since March 2013, when the administration of Nicos Anastasiades took office.
In 2013, total air traffic was 7.0 million, whereas the forecast for the whole of 2017 now stands at 10.2 million – representing an overall increase of 45 per cent.
And this, Demetriades asserted, despite the financial meltdown in Cyprus in 2013, the devaluation of the Russian rouble in 2014, the demise of Cyprus Airways in 2015 and the Brexit vote in 2016.
During the same time period, 32 new airlines began flying to Cyprus, and 64 new destinations were added.
In his presentation, the minister touted the privatisation of commercial port operations.
He said the state estimates revenues of €38m to €40m from these operations during the first few months since privatisation, compared to an average of €21m over the past five years.
At the same time, privatisation has resulted in increased productivity at the port of Limassol, where the mean servicing time for lorries has been cut to 12 minutes, from over one hour previously.
Servicing time for ships has meanwhile been reduced by 50 per cent due to better usage of the gantry cranes.
In telecommunications, a third mobile telephony licence was granted, which resulted in lower prices to consumers.
The government has also issued three new permits for the development of 4G networks, and has installed free wifi connectivity in more than 50 public buildings.
Demetriades spoke of €220m being allocated in recent years to infrastructure projects, including road works, the completion of 32 breakwaters, and upgrades to government buildings.
He said the 2018 budget includes funds for three major projects: the Paphos-Polis road, the first phase of the Limassol-Saittas highway, and the first phase of the so-called ‘Perimetrical Highway of Nicosia’ aiming to decongest traffic at the entrance to the capital.