There is no interest in reviving a Greece-Cyprus ferry service at the present time, despite some initial statements on behalf of several companies when the idea was floated in February of 2020, according to a statement issued on Friday by the Cypriot Shipping Ministry.
No offers whatsoever were received by the Cypriot government after they opened the bidding process in December, according to the statement released late today.
January 29 was the date of the official closing of the bidding process for the potential ferry service.
Last year, the Greek authorities gave the green light for the reintroduction of a ferry connection between mainland Greece and Cyprus, a line that had not been in operation since 2000.
Dedicated berth in Piraeus was offered
The decision to speed up the necessary protocols was taken following a meeting between the Cypriot Deputy Minister of Shipping Natassa Pelidou and Greece’s Shipping Minister Giannis Plakiotakis.
Greece had reiterated its will to facilitate the reintroduction of the line, by offering a dedicated berth in the port of Piraeus for the companies that would have undertaken the route.
The Greek authorities also studied the possibility of adding an intermediate stop between mainland Greece and Cyprus.
Pandemic alters passenger and car ferry traffic
The Shipping Ministry said in a press release “The lack of submission of bids at the end of the deadline may be due to the uncertain economic conditions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which undoubtedly affects the shipping sector, especially the passenger and car ferry sectors.”
The statement added, however, that all is not lost and that the entire issue will be “re-evaluated” when the conditions are more favorable and after contacts are made with officials from the shipping industry.
A bidding process had opened on December 11, 2020 for any firms that were interested in taking on the Greece-Cyprus route after more than two decades of being out of operation. It was hoped that the ferry would have resumed service either in May or June of this year.
The bids, for ferry service connecting either Limassol or Larnaca in Cyprus with Piraeus on the Greek mainland, will be publicly subsidized, using up to 5 million euros in public funding per year. The contract would have been for the duration of three years.
Organizers of the effort stated that they had expected that any ferry would have had a minimum capacity of 200 passengers.
The ferry connection between Greece and Cyprus stopped twenty years ago since the increasing use of airplanes by the public made the line obsolete.
However, its planned reintroduction was seen as a way of deepening the already extremely cordial relations between the two countries.
The European Union had approved a subsidy for the project in July of 2020, stating at the time that it was in the “general economic interest” of the public. Any ferry which eventually plies the waters along the route will fly the EU flag. If it is a foreign-owned vessel, it would have to be registered in the EU, according to EU regulations.
If any ferry service is reinstated between the two countries, it will be only on a weekly basis, slowing down to every two weeks in October and April and operating only once a month from November through March.