AS CYPRUS emerges from a deep financial crisis, a new low-cost airline will launch next month to tap into the Mediterranean island’s resurgent tourism market.
Andrew Pyne, CEO of new airline Cobalt, wants to turn the island’s main airport, Larnaca, into a regional hub serving Europe and the Middle East.
“We want to be the new national airline of Cyprus,” he said. The country has been without a national carrier since the collapse of Cyprus Airways, the victim of a credit crunch that brought the country close to bankruptcy in 2013.
But numbers of visitors to the island’s popular beach resorts soared in 2015, prompting optimism for the vital sector’s prospects. Cobalt plans to run a modest fleet of five planes by the end of summer, and double that by 2017.
Starting from July 7, it will fly in visitors from eight destinations in Britain, Ireland and Greece. Further down the line it plans to open routes to Tel Aviv, Tehran and into Asia.
Cyprus welcomed 2.65 million tourists in 2015, the highest in 14 years. This May saw more visitors than ever before, with particularly high numbers from Britain and Russia, and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation predicts 2016 will see record numbers. While Cyprus has long hosted British and Russian tourists seeking some sun, officials are now working with Cobalt to develop new forms of tourism.