Authorities are confident the island will have a better tourist season, as passenger traffic is expected to increase by 50% in 2022 compared to last year.
Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos told media covering a TUI plane-naming ceremony at Larnaca airport that the island will see significantly more traffic, despite losing out on almost 1.6 million arrivals and departures due to the war in Ukraine.
“We expect a loss of 30% in tourist arrivals because of the war,” said Karousos.
He said that Cyprus had initially expected to facilitate 9 million passengers this year; however, revised estimates following the war in Ukraine pushed the number down to around 7.5 million.
According to data released by airports operator Hermes Airports, passenger traffic at Larnaca and Paphos in 2019 was 11,273,748; it dropped 79.5% to 2,312,806 passengers in 2020 due to COVID restrictions.
In 2021, 5.1 million arrivals were recorded at Cyprus airports.
Karousos described TUI as a “very important” partner for Cypriot tourism and aviation and said the government was also preparing plans and incentives to attract more cruise ship tourism.
“The best support we can give is to ensure air connectivity will increase tourism. So we will continue to support airlines to improve connectivity.”
He said keeping Cyprus’ connectivity with the rest of the world during the pandemic eased the sector’s recovery after the health crisis.
Cyprus submitted a declaration on air connectivity to the EU transport council in June 2021, asking that the European Commission gives the necessary tools to support the island’s air connectivity.
Nicosia wants Brussels to make it easier for countries reliant on tourism and air travel to offer incentives and cut costs for airlines.
“We have seen many countries indicate they will co-sign this declaration, a total of 14 countries, including Italy, Greece, Spain, the Baltic countries and Poland and in the coming months a conference will be organised where the transport ministers who support this declaration will be invited to the official signing ceremony in Cyprus,” Karousos said.
He argued that Cyprus is a good example of overcoming air transport difficulties during coronavirus. The island had more destinations on its flight schedule than in 2019, its record year for air traffic and tourist arrivals.