By Evie Andreou
Authorities and travel agents gave assurances on Thursday that the rise in air fares to popular destinations right after the Cyprus-based air carrier Cobalt Air closed down last week, is temporary as other airlines are now offering more seats.
The reassurances came after the Cyprus-Greece business association expressed concerns over the steep rise in ticket prices for flights between the two countries after Cobalt’s demise.
The association said that air fares from Cyprus to Athens and Thessaloniki had soared, causing discontent among its members, many of whom have to regularly travel between the two countries. In some instances, tickets cost more than €300, the association said. They called on the government to step in and invite other air carriers to increase flights between Cyprus and Greece.
Both the permanent secretary of the transport ministry and the head of the travel agents’ association have given reassurances that prices would drop.
“It was natural, after the closing of an airline for the price of air tickets to rise,” the transport ministry’s permanent secretary, Alecos Michaelides told state broadcaster Cybc.
He added however, that prices, mainly concerning Greece, had begun to drop after the announcement by another air carrier that it was increasing its flights to that country. A second airline announced that it too would increase flights to Greece.
Michaelides said that earlier in the day, a search for air tickets to Greece yielded results for fares as cheap as €50. “If someone is looking to book tickets for later dates, they will see that the prices are the same as before,” he said.
The head of the travel agents’ association, Vasilis Stamataris, urged the public to be patient and give airlines time to do the necessary procedures to fill the gap left by Cobalt.
He said that the rise in prices to popular destinations such as Greece and the UK was due to the fact that a large number of seats were no longer available when Cobalt closed down.
“We call for patience, to give some time so that the gap is filled,” Stamataris told the Cyprus Mail. He added that it takes some time for airlines to increase their flights to existing destinations or introduce new ones.
“I am sure that there will be improvement in a few weeks’ time,” he said.
If however, Stamataris said, someone was looking to book tickets to travel between Friday and Sunday to Greece, when there is always high demand, the prices will naturally be higher. He urged consumers who are not set on travelling to Greece on specific dates, to look for tickets for later dates.