A proposed Greece – Cyprus ferry link has been approved by the European Union has approved a new summertime service, according to a report out of Cyprus on Wednesday.
The Cyprus News Agency reported that the island nation will make yet another attempt to establish a ferry to Greece in 2022 after the European Commission’s DG Competition approved amendments to the bidding process for the proposed maritime link.
The proposed ferry will run on a seasonal basis, starting next year, if there are no further major impediments to the process.
Vassilis Demetriades, Cyprus’ Deputy Minister for Shipping, told CNA interviewers that conversion of the proposed Greece – Cyprus ferry to be operated on a seasonal basis only “potentially creates better conditions for attracting interest by maritime transport companies.”
A ferry link had been established years ago but was abandoned twenty years ago as competition increased from airlines. To revive the ferry service between Greece and Cyprus, the Shipping Ministry opened bidding on a three-year contract with annual state aid of €5 million.
Unfortunately, the bidding process expired at the end of January, 2021 with no takers interested in operating the line between Greece and Cyprus.
Dedicated berth in Piraeus was offered for Cyprus ferry
The decision to speed up the necessary protocols had been 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 Greece – Cyprus ferry 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.
Summer-only Cyprus route may spur interest
Demetriades told the press that meetings held with officials from shipping companies revealed that having to establish a year-round ferry connection — instead of a seasonal one — was one of the main issues deterring companies from submitting bids.
The firm DG Competition approved the change in the bid, following consultation with Cyprus’ Deputy Ministry, according to Demetriades.
“The change in the connection’s nature to a seasonal one may provide us with more options, as it gives companies the option to utilise their ship for other lines during the winter period, while our fellow citizens will enjoy the service in the summer when there is demand,” Demetriades explained.
Following the green light granted by the EU, the Cypriot Deputy minister for Shipping will hold a new round of consultations with interested shipping companies in an effort to draft a revised document which will be used as a basis for new bids.
Demetriades was cautious, however, when asked about the success of the eventual effort and whether or not an entity will step up to take on the summer ferry service.
“A step has been taken without guaranteeing any success in the new tender,” he remarked to reporters.
Grants from the Cyprus government are expected to remain at €5 million per year, while additional changes may be made to the bidding process, which is not subject to Brussels’ approval.
“If consultations are considered encouraging, we aim to launch the new tender this Autumn and select the successful bidder by the end of the year and launch the connection in Spring 2022,” Demetriades stated.