Cyprus will make a fresh attempt to establish a ferry connection with Greece in 2022 after the European Commission’s DG Competition approved amendments to the tender for a seasonal connection.
Deputy Minister for Shipping Vassilis Demetriades told CNA that conversion of the line to be seasonal “potentially creates better conditions for attracting interest by maritime transport companies.”
To revive the ferry connection, abandoned 20 years ago, between Greece and Cyprus, the Shipping Ministry launched a tender for a three-year contract with annual state aid of €5 mln.
However, the tender expired at the end-January with no takers to operate a permanent ferry link out of Cyprus.
Demetriades said meetings with shipping companies showed that establishing a regular ferry connection instead of a seasonal one was one of the main provisions deterring companies from submitting tenders.
DG Competition approved the change in the tender following consultation with the Deputy Ministry, Demetriades said.
“The change in the connection’s nature to a seasonal one may provide us with more options, as it gives companies the option to utilise their ship for other lines during the winter period, while our fellow-citizens will enjoy the service in the summer when there is demand,” Demetriades said.
Following the EU’s green light, he will hold a new round of consultations with interested shipping companies in a bid to draft a revised tender document.
However, Demetriades said he is cautious whether a new tender will yield results.
“A step has been taken without guaranteeing any success in the new tender.”
State aid is expected to remain at €5 mln annually, while additional changes may be made to the tender that is not subject to approval by Brussels.
“If consultations are considered encouraging, we aim to launch the new tender this Autumn and select the successful bidder by the end of the year and launch the connection in Spring 2022.”