Cyprus Airways (CY) is attempting to sell its remaining slot at Heathrow, although no final deal has been reached, CY chairman Tony Antoniou confirmed yesterday, ‘Cyprus Mail’ reports. As part of the cost cutting exercise, the airline also closed its London office on 30th April this year.
Antoniou defended the move in response to mounting criticism from CY pilots and a number of parties, by stressing that selling the slot would be in the company’s interests.
As part of the airline’s restructuring plan, efforts were being made to sell the last remaining slot to Heathrow. The first to know will be the Cyprus Stock Exchange, said Antoniou who was speaking on public broadcaster CyBC.
In answer to criticism about the decision, Antoniou said that Cypriots will not suddenly be unable to fly to London, citing the fact that there are eight airlines already flying to London and not only to Heathrow.
CY has only 10% of the seat capacity for London flights and its market share is around 7%. Defending the decision against criticism, he argued that Cypriots will not suddenly be unable to fly to London if the slot is sold.
“Where is all this travelling public who haven’t been using Cyprus Airways for some time now?” he said, adding, “They simply don’t prefer Cyprus Airways”.
The airline’s chairman went on to say that CY would not abandon London as a destination, indicating that CY would look for slots at other airport in the UK’s capital.
“To be clear, we won’t leave London.”
Regarding rumours that CY was closing down, Antoniou attacked the constant press reports and rumours, saying this was undermining the confidence of the travelling public in the airline’s viability.
“We’ve been hearing that for 13 months. Has Cyprus Airways closed? We have a flight programme that we are fighting to fill and we are doing well. What do we want to do, destroy the viability of Cyprus Airways on our own?”
Antoniou said the airline was in chaos when the current board took over – “a dead company with many problems and yet the company has stood on its feet and now operates without asking [for] or enjoying any state aid”.
The airline’s pilots union PASYPI remains harshly critical of selling CY’s last Heathrow slot and warn that this could jeopardise the airline’s long-term viability.