Cyprus Airways has sold its second daytime slot at London’s Heathrow airport to American Airlines in a deal worth $31 mln (22.8 mln euros) that will boost the troubled national carrier’s finances and help it recover.
The airline’s new board and management, with less than a year at the helm, have embarked on an aggressive cost-cutting plan that including selling the first night-time slot at Heathrow to Middle East Airlines for 6.3 mln euros in March, less than half a failed bid from Qatar Airways that pulled out of talks.
CAIR has cut back on routes and is trying to reduce its unproductive staff to competitive levels, as rivals make their way into destinations and markets previously considered lucrative for the national carrier.
Trade unions have been ranting about the “sell off” of assets, but have yet to propose concrete alternatives.
The government is trapped and cannot provide any further state aid to the airline, as it has received millions in funding in the past that were mismanaged and wasted.
In an announcement on Monday, the airline said the deal with American Airlines will “enhance the company`s liquidity for 2015” with flights continuing to Europe’s busiest airport until September 13.
It added that it will transfer its Larnaca-London traffic to another airport, probably Stansted or Gatwick as of September and will change its frequency and improve flight times.
Passengers who have booked tickets to London after September 13 will be notified by the airline and their ticket price will be adjusted, the airline said.
The unions have opposed chairman Tony Antoniou’s plans to downsize the airline by closing down routes, shutting offices and selling off assets, saying that London’s Heathrow business has not been properly utilised.
However, the bankrupt carrier’s chairman is facing mounting debts, highly-paid and unproductive ground and air crews, and a plethora of unnecessary costs that have been piled up by subsequent managements and senior officials appointed by government and political parties.
Antoniou recently said that another option would be to increase flights to London’s alternative Gatwick airport, while boosting the other UK routes popular with British tourists, such as Birmingham, Manchester, Stansted and Luton.
On the other hand, as of April British Airways increased its flight schedule from Cyprus towards two of London’s prime airports: Heathrow and Gatwick.
Now giving travellers the option of 17 flights per week, both incoming and outgoing tourism has received a significant boost with more travel options.
Upon the resumption of the Paphos-Gatwick route on the March 30, British Airways immediately proceeded with an increase in flights from Larnaca to Gatwick from 3 to 5 times a week.
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