Air traffic at Larnaca and Paphos airports is beginning to move again, with capacity hoping to reach 60% this summer as more Brits, Russians, and Israelis return for a holiday.
Around 60 flights will take place on Monday at Larnaca and Paphos International airports, according to Maria Kouroupi, a senior official for operator Hermes.
She told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) the last few days at Larnaca Airport are a reminder “of the good times when there was a high number of arrivals”.
“We are very far from the number of flights that we use to have at this time in a normal year”.
Flights at Paphos Airport are underway, but the numbers are still small.
Kouroupi said there would be 220 flights at both airports from various destinations this week, including Russia, Israel, Ukraine, and Greece.
These numbers, she added, change weekly because of the COVID-19 situation on the island; some airlines “opt to push their flight schedule for later”.
Flights from the UK are expected to resume in early June. Other airlines, apart from British Airways, have begun adding flights to their schedules.
As far as Israel is concerned, Kouroupi said there is a good occupancy rate, ranging between 35-40%.
Kouroupi said that airlines do not hesitate to change their schedules and cancel flights if there are low occupancy rates, which may happen up to three times a week.
“It is important that Cyprus’ epidemiological situation is improved for airlines to begin their flight schedules.”
Last week, Hermes met with major airlines that expressed concern “Cyprus does not currently have a good epidemiological picture”.
Kouroupi said that in the first four months, passenger traffic at both airports was around 10% of normal flows. In May, the percentage is expected to reach 20%.
“We hope that from June, passenger traffic will increase significantly, based on the airline scheduling, reaching 60%.
Last August, passenger traffic stood at 25% compared to COVID-free 2019.
“It is very hard to say what is expected during the year since the situation constantly changes.”
Since April 2020, the percentage of positive COVID cases detected at Cyprus airports is under 0.5%.
Cyprus has a new colour-coded system for entry which involves a test regime to avoid quarantine.
And Cyprus continues to carry out random testing at the airports, despite arrivals needing to carry a negative COVID test from some destinations.
From Monday, vaccinated tourists are allowed entry without conditions; Hermes also accepts Russia’s Sputnik as an approved vaccine.