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Cobalt passengers who paid in cash ‘unlikely’ to get money back

The reimbursement of travellers who had paid travel agents in cash continues to be an issue following the collapse of Cobalt Air last week, while the government had by Tuesday handled most cases of repatriation.

According to state broadcaster CyBC, while affected travellers who had purchased tickets by credit card can claim their money back from the banks, reimbursement of those who made cash payments at tour operators is “unlikely, if not impossible.”

Tour operators do not have the required capital necessary for the reimbursement of cash payments, CyBC said, as the money is handed over to the airline companies.

With the closure of Cobalt Air, it is unclear whether cash payments will be reimbursed.

Meanwhile, permanent secretary at the transport ministry Alecos Michaelides said most cases of re-patriation have already been handled.

He said that while “initial accounts of affected travellers from Cobalt’s closure were as high as 18,000,” with time it emerged that only 5,000 of those required assistance for repatriation.

“Three to four thousand affected Cobalt travellers have already been repatriated,” he said.

The government had announced on October 18 that it would cover the cost of repatriation of passengers who were left stranded after Cobalt terminated its operations, setting the deadline for repatriation applications to October 24.

President of the Travel Agents Association Vassilis Stamataris told CyBC that “tour operators were alert and prepared in the days leading up to the collapse of the company, and were therefore able to complete most applications from the weekend”.

Stamataris expressed optimism regarding the overall resolution of the crisis and movement of passengers with future bookings on Cobalt as other airlines have stepped in to fill the gaps left by Cobalt by adding flights and using larger aircrafts.

“There’s a European airline which will be adding 10 more flights to those already stated they would have in 2019, so this amounts to a 23 per cent increase in flights to and from Cyprus from the additional flights of just one company,” he said.

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