Cyprus cannot withstand further hikes in air fares, either when it comes to the wellbeing of its tourism industry or its residents, Transport Minister Vassiliki Anastasiadou said on Wednesday.
Addressing the opening of the Airports Council International (ACI) Europe conference in Limassol, the minister said the aviation industry was at a critical juncture between sustainability and growth, and climate change was of strategic importance to the sector.
But there were also other factors to consider, she said.
“Aviation connectivity is fragile and subject to constant changes in market dynamics,” the minister said. “For Cyprus any additional cost to airline tickets will negatively affect aviation connectivity, which is a key factor in the development of tourism.”
Last week Disy leader Averof Neophytou asked the competition watchdog to look into the cost of airfares to Greece after numerous complaints from the business sector about the high fares that appeared to be in the same price range among several airlines.
“All European citizens are looking for affordable air fares, but Cypriots are looking for them more than anyone else as air transport is the only available way to connect with other countries,” Anastasiadou said.
“That is why it is important to ensure the sustainability of international competition within the European aviation sector and, at the same time, to take into account the specificities of member countries.”
Despite a sufficient degree of connectivity, there was still room for improvement in Cyprus’ aviation connectivity not only by attracting new markets but also by strengthening existing markets with good tourism prospects such as Germany, France, Ireland and Italy, the minister said. She referred to the incentive plans offered to airlines that have brought improved connectivity and economic growth to the country.
In 2018, almost 11 million passengers flew in and out of Larnaca and Paphos airports, she said. Of these, almost four million were tourist arrivals.
As far as climate change was concerned, the minister assured that Cyprus, as an EU member state, supported ongoing efforts and actions to address these challenges for sustainable development of international aviation.
But she urged that discussions on any additional taxes on air transport be carefully assessed.
The conference in Limassol is being attended by over 300 delegates from 40 countries.