Cyprus Airways had been mismanaged and bankrupted by others after spending tens of millions in taxpayer money, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said on Friday, rebutting opposition criticism over the perceived high airfares that followed the national carrier’s closure.
Rejecting criticism suggesting the administration was responsible for the high prices, especially to popular destinations like Greece, Georgiades said people have apparently forgotten the high cost of running the airline, which was footed by the taxpayers.
“It is others who mismanaged and bankrupted CY after spending tens of millions in taxpayer money, leading it to the inevitable ending with the decision of the European Commission, which ruled that all this aid granted by governments in previous years were illegal,” Georgiades said.
Monopolies are not the answer in competitive sectors like this one, he added.
The original Cyprus Airways shut down in January 2015 after the European Commission ruled that more than €102m in government support constituted illegal state aid and €66m had to be repaid.
The national carrier could not afford to return the money and operations were suspended.
A year later, Charlie Airlines bought the rights to use the trademark ‘Cyprus Airways’ for €2.04m for the next 10 years.
The minister said the answer was the operation of the market forces and the competition watchdog can examine if the rules are working.