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Hope for decision on ferry to Greece early next year

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A new, tweaked tenders procedure inviting carriers to submit bids for a Cyprus-Greece ferry link – discontinued some 20 years ago – should be rolled out by next month, deputy minister for shipping Vasilis Demetriades said on Tuesday.

“I think that in early November we shall have a new tenders document, within the framework permitted by the EU and EU regulations,” Demetriades told reporters.

“We have tried to make the tenders document more flexible and attractive… and we hope that this time carriers will express an interest.”

Ahead of the tender’s launch, informal meetings will be held with companies and “we hope that, beginning of next year, we shall have good news,” the deputy minister noted.

A previous tender procedure for a ferry link between Cyprus and the Greek port of Piraeus fell flat in January after it failed to attract any bids. This was despite €5m in EU-approved state support.

The main stumbling block related to the fact that the contract offered by Cyprus concerned a year-round service; carriers preferred a seasonal service, so as to be able to use their ships on other routes during the winter.

The deputy shipping minister then held talks in Brussels, managing to get the nod from the EU for a seasonal service. That result rekindled hope that a new competition would be successful.

“Some terms [of the proposed new tender document] have been improved, while others have not, as they conflict with EU regulations,” Demetriades said Tuesday.

He pointed out that the subsidy to be given by the Cypriot state will cover the costs of the carrier winning the contract.

“The state will not simply hand out €5 million, which the carrier will use however they like. They must demonstrate their real costs. From then on, the carrier must try to attract passengers.”

And carriers already operating other profitable lines would not be lured only by the covering of costs.

“Still, we shall do our utmost to explain what the state will cover, and we hope that this time we shall find candidates,” he said.

The maritime connection between Cyprus and Greece has been inactive since 2000.

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