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Cyprus seeks to lure low cost airlines

Touristclick Cyprus Travel news

Cyprus seeks to lure low cost airlines
IN A bid to reverse falling tourist numbers, the government aims to give incentives to foreign airlines to start flights to Cyprus, but will need EU backing for the project.

The Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) is putting the final touches to the plan, which will involve co-financing airlines’ travel costs. The move aims to tap into the Italian, Irish and Central European markets, as arrivals from these countries are currently very limited. But as the project involves subsidisation, it will need to be approved by the EU. The CTO is reportedly confident Brussels will give the green light, as it had done for Malta, which is implementing a similar five-year scheme. In fact, the Maltese endeavour has served as the model for the CTO plan.

CTO director Panos Englezos has said the European Commission approved Malta’s project as it deemed the Mediterranean island could be given an exemption due to its “geographical particularities”, a trait shared by Cyprus. Some of the conditions placed on Malta were that the plan should be of a specific duration (five years), that the procedures should be completely transparent and that funds should be available to any interested party, ruling out discrimination and unfair treatment.

The Maltese government undertook to cover up to 40 per cent of the airlines’ initial costs, including marketing costs. Englezos added that, under the scheme, financial assistance would be made available only for new routes, not existing ones. Another initiative the CTO is pursuing is attracting low-fare airlines to the island. The latest addition is Jet2.com, based at Leeds Bradford International Airport. As of May 2008, the company will carry out two flights a week from Paphos to Leeds, with airfares as low as £49, including airport duties.

 
 
 
 
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