The chairman of the troubled national carrier has been called by parliament to give deputies what they perceive to be a justified response to the 30-million-dollar question: why sell the slots at Heathrow airport?
Perhaps, the answer should be “why not”? Some cool-headed commentators have supported Cyprus Airways’ decision to let go of its most prized assets, as the state-controlled airline turns to alternative hubs, both in the U.K. and elsewhere.
By lowering its costs and matching that with lower fares, the airline could start becoming competitive once again, making it worthwhile for travelers to chose the once glorious ‘Flying Moufflon’, which over years of political and union abuse has been demoted to a village bus with wings.
A lower cost also means a quicker turnaround if the European Commission approves the state-aid request for about 100 mln euros in government funding and subsidies, with the airline looking to renew its fleet and introduce more efficient aircraft. Along the way, it could start hiring once again and seek routes with a higher profitability.
Moving away from Europe’s busiest airport may have its disadvantages, but at the end of the day, shifting to cheaper-to-use airports could result in more flexibility when it comes to arrival and departure times. It will be able to compete head-on with budget airlines and return to the good old days of providing Cyprus-destination tour operators better seat allocations and deals, effectively helping to boost the tourism traffic to the island.
Cyprus Airways has not, as yet, been included in any of the three global alliances, mainly because of its rocky financial state and an image that is projected of an ageing and uncooperative staff. Fresh funds would also allow the company to invest in new technologies, better marketing and training of its ground and cabin, many of whom have forgotten what it means to be polite.
New employment terms would also mean that CAIR would no longer be regarded as the haunting ground for political parties who have for decades used the airline to place relatives or seek other favours.
What MPs should ask chairman Tony Antoniou on Friday is “what will it take to make Cyprus Airways profitable and proud again?” or even “are you willing to snub government and union pressures for the true benefit of the company and its future?”
Let’s see if our MPs are serious enough.
Get all the latest news and videos in your inbox. Register FREE