Ryanair has told Overseas Property Professional (OPP) it is not ruling out flying to Cyprus in 2009, but says it has not yet been officially approached by the country’s tourism authorities to make it a reality.
In 2008, Ryanair said it was unwilling to fly to the island until Cyprus’s relatively high landing charges were dropped, robbing it of over 60,000 tourists per year.
“We’re potentially interested in Cyprus but we have to be able to make money,” said Bernard Berger, the budget airline’s director of route development. “We are a business. You [Cyprus] need us to come here, we don’t need to come to Cyprus. We are doing very well thank you.”
Moving to address the situation amidst falling tourism revenue and visitor numbers, ministers announced that they would inject €300m into Cyprus’ struggling property sector, of which €51m will be put straight into the tourism industry for VAT reductions in hotel charges and the lowering of aircraft landing fees.
“We did not relax, but timely and effectively put together a fiscal programme to address the crisis we find ourselves in,” said Cyprus president Demetris Christofias. “We are always prepared to take additional measures to limit the visible consequences.”
Despite the move, Ryanair said that it has not yet been approached officially by the Cypriot government to move the idea forward.
“We [Ryanair] are continuing to negotiate with all airports around the world on a variety of issues and if an airport approaches us, then we would sit down and meet with it,” Steven McNamara, head of communications at Ryanair told OPP. In reference to Cyprus, the spokesperson added: “Ryanair does not ever confirm or deny reports until an official decision has been reached.”
Commenting on the possibility of the budget airline flying to Cyprus, Antonis Pisharas, overseas marketing manager (UK) for developer Aristo, said: “If the government can get a guarantee on the numbers Ryanair would bring in, then they should talk to them. They need something tangible to work with. However, if Ryanair believes it can bring these people in than it should do so anyway.”
Derek Hatton, director of Larnaca-based agency Morpheus Investments, added: “If a deal was confirmed it would be a big boost for both the tourism sector and have a natural knock-on effect for the property industry. With Larnaca opening its new airport in November this year to double capacity, low cost carriers are bound to be attracted and to have Ryanair on board would strengthen the island’s fundamentals.”