The current transport ministry’s budget is the highest in its history, with €3.1 billion worth of projects completed or underway, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said during the presentation of his ministry’s work on Friday.

Between 2020 and 2023, the transport ministry was overseeing projects worth €1.9 billion, in addition to the development of the port and marina of Larnaca, the largest development project in Cyprus, amounting to €1.2 billion, the ministry’s report showed.

“All the major projects announced by the president are under construction,” the minister said.

He added that the development of Larnaca port and marina will create 4,000 new jobs and contribute €120 million to the domestic national product.

Karousos, who assumed his post in 2020, was also in charge of strategies to contain the Covid-19 pandemic such as the flight ban and the plan for the gradual reopening of airport which included the categorisation of countries based on their epidemiological situation.

Cyprus, he said, was the first country in the EU to draw up and implement an action plan for the reopening of airports, while offering a package of significant incentives to airlines to continue and transfer their activities in Cyprus. He also praised the cooperation of all stakeholders in the efforts to repatriate Cypriots from abroad.

As regards to the ministry’s budget, amounting to €466 million, Karousos said this is the highest in its history and 50 per cent higher compared to 2013. This is reflected in the ministry’s development expenditure, he added, which is two and half times higher than a decade ago.

Among the projects under construction are the Cyprus museum in Nicosia, the motorways of Astromeritis – Evrychou, Polis Chrysochou – Paphos and Limassol – Saiitas and the Nicosia ringroad.

The new blood centre, Larnaca hospital and Limassol stadium have been completed, as well as courts and health centres across Cyprus.

In the coming months, Karousos said that procedures for the construction of the Limnes asylum seekers reception centre in Menoyia will proceed, as well as the new premises of the interior, transport and justice ministries. Expected to begin are also the new buildings of the state chemistry and legal service as well as the Latchi port expansion.

In the area of connectivity, Karousos said in 2022, there was 474 per cent increase in cruise ship passengers compared with the year before, with 159 cruise reservations for the year and 207 bookings in 2023.

On air connectivity, the minister said despite the loss of Russian and Ukranian markets due to the war, passenger traffic in 2022 reached 82 per cent of the 2019 figure. There were 147 routes from 52 airlines to 48 countries, while the target for 2023 is to surpass the 2019 numbers.

To this end, the ministry liberalised the ground handling services at airports, which corresponds to a 50 per cent reduction in aircraft handling costs. It also introduced €165 million worth of incentives for the next five years, with the aim to increase air traffic to 13.7 million passengers in 2027 from 9.2 million last year.