Aegean Airlines submitted to the Cypriot authorities an official request to participate in the initial stage of the procedure leading to the sale of Cyprus Airways or its assets, according to a company announcement.
Aegean noted that it will decide on any possible next steps depending on its Cyprus Airways data evaluation, as well as on the sale procedure to be chosen by the Republic of Cyprus.
Sources say that the airline has chosen to participate in this part of the process as it does not have a binding character, and, as Aegean officials said, ‘We have no reason to stay out of the procedure.’
The Cypriot government had set yesterday afternoon as the deadline for expression of interest in Cyprus Air, having issued an open invitation to strategic and other investors for the acquisition of shares or significant assets of the carrier, which is majority-owned by the state.
The Cypriot airline has been selling assets to keep afloat, including slots at London’s Heathrow airport. The state owns 93 percent of the airline.
Cyprus Airways employee unions welcomed the government’s invitation to potential investors for its majority stake in floundering national carrier Cyprus Airways but Communications Minister Marios Demetriades last Thursday warned that short of finding a strategic investor, the company cannot survive in the medium term.
Head of the pilots’ association Petros Souppouris said potential investors will not necessarily be thwarted by the fact that the company has sold off most of its assets, and that the top priority should now be on how to secure a favourable ruling by the European Commission on whether the airline needs to return the capital injections it received from the state in previous years, which run up to over €100 million.
“The government’s invitation of interest is certainly a step in the right direction, and we welcome it,” Souppouris said. “We are certainly facing difficulties as a company and have sold off most of our assets, but strategic investors don’t care much for assets. They care for Cyprus’ strategic location. But the most important thing for both investors and the government is how to neutralise the European Commission’s threat. No investor will ever be interested in a company that owes the government over €100 million.”
Presenting Aegean Airlines’ strategy for the 2014 summer season a few months ago, Aegean’s Vice-President Eftychios Vassilakis had said that Aegean would offer 13 million seats this year, up by 1,150,000 compared to last year.
During the announcement of its summer schedule, Aegean confirmed the operation of 205 international and 51 domestic routes, with 6.6 million available seats for 33 Greek destinations and another 6.4 million for 81 overseas destinations.
Aegean Airlines is also strengthening its fleet with the addition of five Airbus A320 and A321 aircrafts, to reach a total of 50 aircrafts and creates a new base in Chania (for a total of eight bases around Greece).
Aegean will begin five new flights to Denmark, Sweden, UAE, Jordan and Lebanon along with 14 new destinations from Athens to: Birmingham, Marseilles, Nantes, Zürich, Hamburg, Hannover, Nuremberg, Copenhagen, Catania, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Stockholm, Izmir and Amman.
Aegean Airlines also won the Best Regional Airline in Europe Award in the 2014 Skytrax World Airline Awards, for the fourth year in a row. The award committee chose Aegean Airlines for its high quality services among roughly 245 airline companies worldwide.
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