Record passengers at Cyprus airports

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Hermes Airports, operator of the island’s two main airports in Larnaca and Paphos, announced record passenger traffic of 11.6 mln last year, a 3% increase over 2019 and optimistic of a further rise this year.

Ten years ago, more than 7 mln passengers travelled through Larnaca and Paphos.

Hermes said that during 2023 it handled an average of 32,000 passengers per day, of which the summer months had a daily average of 41,000 passengers and 18,000 in winter.

Hermes said 8.1 mln passengers travelled through Larnaca, a 34% increase from 2022, with an average load factor of 81%. Paphos airport carried 3.6 mln passengers, an increase of 12% compared to 2022, with an average load factor of 89%. Overall, 52 airlines operated from the two airports, flying to 39 countries and 159 routes.

The airports operator said this recovery is attributed to the restoration of connectivity to pre-Covid 2019 levels for traditional markets such as the United Kingdom while there was substantial penetration of other markets. For 28 markets which represent 66% of total passenger traffic, an increase was recorded compared to 2019, including Poland, Italy and Hungary.

During 2023, 18 new destinations were added, strengthening Cyprus’s connectivity with Basel, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Naples, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Riyadh and Jeddah.

Furthermore, two airlines operating out of Cyprus hubs, added four aircraft, two in Larnaca and two in Paphos.

Incentive scheme

Hermes said a key contributor was the incentive scheme for airlines, which has been implemented for the past ten years, having invested over EUR 120 mln, while digital marketing campaigns were targeted for further promotion of Cyprus.

A significant achievement for 2023, and an opportunity for 2024, is the increase in the winter schedule of airlines, helping to establish Cyprus as a year-round destination while offering a variety of choices for passengers.

During the winter 2023-2024 period, there is a 30% increase in available airline seats compared to the corresponding period of 2019, with average 70 flights per day. During winter, 30 airlines will operate flights to 35 countries and 102 destinations from Larnaca and Paphos airports.

Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades said last month that as of December 15, passenger traffic at airports exceeded the total traffic of the entire pre-pandemic year of 2019, when a record 11.3 mln passengers walked through Cyprus’ airports.

The same year, Cyprus welcomed a record 3.97 mln tourists.

Tourist arrivals reached 159,605 in November, up 6.5% from the same month last year, helping to boost total arrivals for the year to 3,722,022, a whopping 20.4% increase from the 3,091,039 in the same period last year.

Arrivals from UK

According to the statistical service Cystat, arrivals from the United Kingdom were the main source of tourism for November, with a share of 26.8% (42,724), followed by Poland with 11.8% (18,874), Germany with 10% (15,984) and Greece with 9.7% (15,475).

A total number of 117,487 residents of Cyprus returned from a trip abroad in November compared to 102,417 in the same month last year, an increase of 14.7%.

The main countries from which residents of Cyprus returned in November were Greece with a share of 33.9% (39,868), the United Kingdom with 13.5% (15,834) and Italy with 5% (5,914).

Hermes Airports Ltd. took over the management of both airports in May 2006, as well as the construction of new terminals at a cost of about EUR 856 mln.

The new Paphos airport became fully operational early in November 2008 and Larnaca airport one year later.

Hermes said the two airports’ annual contribution to the country’s finances is around 4% of Cyprus GDP.