Paphos Mayor Phedon Phedonos blasted what he called ‘third world conditions’ at the local airport, claiming operators failed to meet their commitments to upgrade infrastructure and services.
He said tourists are being made to wait hours at outdoor facilities, exposed to the heat, as departure lounges can’t cater to the airport’s increased traffic during the summer.
In a letter to the Senior Executive Director of Hermes Airports, Eleni Kalogirou, also communicated to the President, the Minister of Transport and Parliament, Phedonos argued that insufficient infrastructure is costing Cyprus and the town dearly.
He demanded that private operators, Hermes Airports, proceed with the immediate building upgrade and provide high-level services at Paphos International Airport.
“Queues that extend for tens of metres are created in departure and arrival halls.
“To temporarily decongest the situation, the Airport Authority and the ground-handling providers use the outdoor waiting areas as if they were normal departure halls,” said Phedonos.
“Passengers are made to wait for more than an hour at outdoor waiting areas where they normally have to wait only 10-15 minutes to board, exposed to adverse weather conditions and a third-world environment”.
The mayor argued that operators must swiftly complete the expansion of the departure and arrival halls, and the outdoor waiting areas, while simultaneously upgrading ground handling services.
He urged operators to get down to business at the end of November, as the 2023 season is around the corner.
“Both the Municipality of Paphos and tourism stakeholders of the district will not tolerate these problems to be carried over to the new tourist season, finding Paphos Airport in the same degraded state as in previous years”.
Phedonos wants to see the Cyprus airports operator, Hermes, implement their obligations from the 25-year BOT contract for the construction and operation of Larnaca and Paphos airports, signed in May 2006.
As he argued, the concession contract foresees the construction of new projects (Phase 2) to increase airport capacity.
Despite meeting relevant passenger traffic milestones, Hermes has yet to launch Phase 2.
The airports’ operators have appealed to an expedited dispute resolution process, with the decision, in June 2021, being negative for the company.
Following the decision, the government and Hermes agreed to start negotiations over a compromise solution to complete Phase 2.
Therefore, the Republic’s arbitration process initiated in the meantime (February 2021) was temporarily suspended.
In April 2022, the two parties agreed to consider entering into a compromise agreement, whereby Hermes would construct the Phase 2 projects, and the Republic of Cyprus would agree to a five-year extension of the concession contract to facilitate financing from lenders.
Meanwhile, Hermes Airports has advanced a claim from the Republic for €250 mln, claiming losses due to the pandemic.