Greece hails tender for Cyprus ferry link

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Greece’s Maritime Affairs Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis has welcomed the launch of a tender process for a ferry connection with Cyprus after a 20-year absence.

“After months of negotiations, the European Union ensured the funding of the shipping line; Hence, passengers and vehicles will shortly be able to use this line, which will interconnect the port of Piraeus with the port of Limassol or Larnaca,” said Plakiotis.

“From the first moment we supported the establishment of the coastal shipping link between Greece and Cyprus, in close cooperation with the government of Cyprus,” he added.

He thanked Cypriot Deputy Minister of Shipping Vassilis Dimitriades and the Cyprus Ambassador to Greece Kyriakos Kenevezos for their cooperation.

Plakiotakis said resuming of the ferry link will further strengthen bilateral relations.

After two decades of being cut off from the rest of Europe, travellers from Cyprus will be able to hop on a ferry next summer and disembark in Piraeus to continue their journey on foot, by car or motorbike.

The Deputy Shipping Ministry on December 11 issued an open tender to revive the Cyprus-Greece ferry link as of May or June 2021.

Several companies have already expressed interest in the process that closes on January 29.

The tender will then be evaluated and awarded in time for the winning operator to start operations in May or in June if there is a Covid-related delay.

The ferry link will be a weekly schedule, dropping to fortnightly in October and April and monthly during the winter months from November to March, with a state subsidy of €5 mln a year, for three years.

The ferry must be an EU-flag vessel or if foreign-owned, must be EU-registered.

It should carry at least 200 passengers with a capacity of 140 more in cabins, if the trip is longer than 16 hours, with fares capped at €50 single and €80 return, €75 single fare in cabins and €149 return, €75 and €150 return for passenger cars, and €50 with €100 return for motorcycles.

Passengers under two years old travel free.

The EU-approved state subsidy is for the passenger service and private vehicles with the operator allowed to charge any rate for commercial vehicles and their cargo.

Port fees, not included in the ticket price, may indicatively range between €20 and €30.

Demetriades has invited his Greek counterpart Plakiotakis to join him on the maiden voyage.

Talks on state aid started in July 2019 and concluded successfully on July 3 by the EU’s DG Competition deciding the ferry can be considered a general economic interest service under EU rules, supported with state funds.

The Cabinet gave its final go-ahead on October 7 to subsidise the ‘General Interest Service’, it was approved by the Accountant General on November 26.

The operator must begin the ferry route within 20 days from the final signatures and its duration must be three years, uninterrupted throughout the year, regardless of the number of passengers.