Friday, October 31, 2014

Cyprus Airways locked in crucial Friday talks

Efforts to secure the future of struggling national air carrier Cyprus Airways (CA) got underway on Friday as talks begin with potential suitors amidst protests from airline employees.

On Friday morning, the CA technical committee – which is tasked with negotiating with potential investors the future of the ailing airline – met with officials of Ryanair who have reportedly expressed an interest in purchasing the CA name and emblem.

A similar meeting will take place later on Friday with officials of Aegean Airlines while representatives of the Greek airline also approached the Cyprus Civil Aviation Authority to request an air operator's certificate (AOC).

While talks were ongoing, union-backed employees of CA held a protest outside the KPMG offices in Nicosia – where the first meeting talk place with Ryanair – over what they feel is the government’s decision to turn their back on them.

CA unions were recently informed by Finance Minister Harris Georgiades that the state would not longer throw money at the airline but instead focus all its efforts on finding potential investors or buyers.

In statements at the Finance Ministry, Georgiades said the government has not initiated the company’s forced sale but was looking for investors.

A European Commission decision as regards an investigation into state aid expected in the next few months, will be decisive for the airline’s future, said the Minister.

“Even in the case of a negative outcome, the government’s priority is not to leave any of the employees without cover”.

Georgiades went on to say that the company has received €130 million from the state over the period 2007 to 2014. He added that company loans, guaranteed by the state, were worth €78m in 2007, while company assets sold from 2010 to 2014 were worth €111m.

The minister also hit out at opposition parties who have accused the government of forcing closure on the stuttering airline arguing that it was the previous administration that hid its head in the sand instead of dealing with the matter promptly.

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