By Lizzy Ioannidou
Cobalt Air and Hermes Airports on Thursday declined to comment on reported meetings that were recently held on the island with Chinese airline China Southern, in order to discuss the prospect of launching direct flights connecting Cyprus and China.
According to reports, the scheme through which the Chinese airline will cooperate with Cobalt and Larnaca airport seeks to turn the Cyprus airport into a transit centre from which passengers can then move on to other European and Middle Eastern destinations that Cobalt is already connected to. The developing scheme is expected to come into operation within the next two years.
Meetings were also held between the Chinese company and Hermes Airports, during which the technical and economic aspects of the proposed cooperation were discussed. The meeting covered the prospect of using of the airport as a direct connection between Cyprus and China and as a transit centre towards other European and Middle Eastern countries, through the cooperation with Cobalt.
China Southern representatives also met with Civil Aviation officials in Nicosia, in order to work out the details regarding the institutional, operational and technical requirements of Cyprus, Phileleftheros reported.
Visits were also organised to the Larnaca and Paphos airports, in order for the representatives of the Chinese company to have a better idea of the infrastructure offered by the Cyprus airports.
China Southern are seriously looking into cementing this cooperation deal with Cyprus, which will expand their route network and creating a transit centre in Cyprus, since the Chinese company is also increasing its role in the transfer of air cargo, with Cyprus constituting an attractive solution for the transport of cargo from China to areas such as the Middle East and the Balkans.
Cobalt and Hermes declined to comment on this meeting. Media sources say that a follow-up meeting has been set for early Autumn, in order to take more specific steps in the completion of the deal.
The prospect of direct flights to and from China is one that Cobalt has been exploring since 2016, when Cobalt had issued an announcement claiming that “the connectivity of Cyprus with China through direct flights is part of Cobalt’s strategic plans to expand its activities.”
During this period Cobalt had also met with China’s Trade Deputy Minister Zhang Xiangchen and held similar meetings with the Chinese Embassy in Cyprus where they discussed procedures concerning the air connectivity of two countries with direct flights.