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Nicosia welcomes EU approval of airline incentives

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Cyprus applauded the European Commission’s approval of a €6.13 mln government incentive scheme to support airlines affected by the pandemic flying to the island.

Brussels agreed that the financial rewards were in line with the EU’s State Aid Temporary Framework.

The scheme is a re-introduction of an aid measure initially approved by the Commission on 1 July 2020, which expired on 31 December 2021.

In a statement on Monday, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said Cyprus took the initiative on a European level for air connectivity and will prepare and promote the relevant declaration.

The declaration provides for the support of mainly regional and island member states of the EU.

Cyprus’ initiative was welcomed by 12 more EU states, ready to co-sign the declaration in April.

The scheme, which will take the form of direct grants, will be open to all interested airlines operating routes to and from Cyprus.

The scheme aims to support airlines in a “comprehensive and non-discriminatory” manner to re-establish air routes to and from Cyprus and thus enable air connectivity and tourism recovery.

Brussels gave it the go-ahead since the aid does not exceed €2.3 mln per beneficiary and will be granted no later than 30 June 2022.

Airlines are given financial incentives to bring visitors to Cyprus on flights between 40-70% capacity.

Cyprus was one of the least affected EU countries for loss of air connectivity during the pandemic.