All processes followed were in line with the Republic’s laws and regulations said the forestry department on Wednesday responding to allegations of irregular dealings in the hiring of two Russian ‘Kamov’ firefighting helicopters.
Daily newspaper Politis, citing the contract on the hiring of the two helicopters (Annex II), alleged that the suitable helicopters should be equipped with an internal water tank, but the department had opted for helicopters equipped with a suspended bucket instead without any explanation.
Moreover, Politis questioned whether the Kamovs where the cheapest option, citing 2021 Kamov prices, that were lower than the current prices, and also citing lower costs of similar helicopters hired by the Greek Republic in 2022, from the same company.
Releasing part of the contract’s Annex II, the department described Politis’ comments ‘misleading,’ indicating that the relevant specifications stipulated helicopters equipped either with a suspended bucket or an internal tank and with a minimum capacity of 3500 litres.
Regarding the lease price, the department citing market information provided by the European Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), said that while there were Super Puma helicopters available for hire, they were more expensive and had smaller water capacity compared to the Kamov’s.
Specifically, the Super Puma’s have a 2500 litres water capacity carried via a suspended bucket and cost €4185/hr or €106,750/week standing fee.
Thus, according to the figures, the department highlights that the Kamovs not only have greater water capacity but are also cheaper by 35 per cent. Moreover, the department stressed that these prices where the result of three different tenders’ procedures.
In addition, Politis had also referred to the absence of a member representing the civil aviation authority during the hand over.
On that point, an unnamed source told Cyprus Mail that “the forestry department’s firefighting activities are considered a state activity and thus, do not fall under civil aviation’s domain of responsibility”.