Ryanair may express interest in Cyprus Airways

In mid-July, the Greek Cypriot government invited non-binding expressions of interest in its shares or assets in Cyprus Airways which has posted heavy losses for years.

Around 20 companies have submitted non-binding expressions of interest in Cyprus Airways , a state-owned carrier that the government wants to privatise, Communications Minister Marios Demetriades said on Thursday.

Aegean Airlines, Ryanair and Israel’s Arkia were among those firms, Demetriades told Reuters.

Romanian low-cost carrier Blue Air said it had also submitted an expression of interest, which is a preliminary step before authorities invite binding bids.

“At least 25 percent of those companies which submitted an expression of interest are related to aviation companies,” Demetriades said.

The deadline for declarations for a non-binding expression of interest potentially leading to a binding offer, was 23rd July.

Speaking to reporters in Nicosia, Ryanair boss  Michael O’Leary said, “We probably will make some expression of interest in Cyprus Airways,” O’Leary told reporters in Nicosia in response to a question. “We want to see if we could help the government come up with some rescue package even though it might be too late.”

The Greek Cypriot airline, which is 93% state-owned has been selling assets to keep afloat, including slots at London’s Heathrow airport. O’Leary said he would be meeting with Cypriot tourism and finance officials, where Ryanair would raise concerns over high fees charged by Cypriot airports.

 “We would like to grow more, but the impediment is the high costs,” he said, adding that a high cost base had seen Cyprus lose half a million passengers over a five-year period since 2008. “The place is stagnating,” he said.

Charges at Cyprus’s two airports are double that of an airport in Berlin and are among the highest in Europe, Ryanair executives said.

O’Leary was in Cyprus to launch its 2014 winter schedule. The airline flies to eight European destinations from Paphos airport.


Sources: Reuters and Cyprus Mail

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