Even before the tourist season kicks off, 100,000 seats from Russia have been lost overnight due to Cyprus’ bad COVID-19 performance.
Local tour operators confirmed to the Financial Mirror they have been informed by sources in Russia, the island’s second-largest tourist source, that chartered flights to Cyprus will be grounded until 1 June.
Aviation industry sources also confirmed that Russia’s Aeroflot, the country’s largest airline, has put a moratorium on flights to Cyprus.
“Not only was Cyprus banking on a (Russia) flight ban to Turkey due to its bad epidemiological picture, but we have followed suit, pushing the tourism sector further into a corner,” said Charis Papacharalambous, spokesperson for the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA).
“As an association, we are disappointed with the development as we warned authorities the situation was getting out of hand.
“With more than 600 cases a day, it was only to be expected we would have cancellations en masse.”
He said taking measures to stop the pandemic appears to be a one-way route, as just relying on mass testing is not working.
“Although a great strategy, mass testing is simply not paying off in Cyprus as people are not isolating and not revealing their close contacts.”
Since reopening on 1 April, Cyprus airports welcomed 6,500 Russian tourists, according to available data.
Papacharalambous argued Cyprus’ worsening situation not only affects Russia because international tour operators will also be looking at other safer destinations to take their clientele.
“It is still unclear what will happen with the UK.
“The UK government has told Britons that they will not be allowed to travel until the end of May.
“However, with its current epidemiological data, Cyprus will at best be categorized in the amber category, which means that Britons would have to quarantine.”
UK’s Jet2 has announced the start of its flights from 27 June, while TUI and easyJet are currently planning flights from 17 May.
“Regarding tourists from Israel, things are better as most of the country’s population has been vaccinated.
“However, for May, about 18,000 Israeli tourists are expected to walk through Cypriot airports, a number which does not save the situation.”
There are no restrictions on Israeli or UK visitors entering Cyprus.