A Cyprus Airways technical committee met with representatives of Ryanair and Aegean Airlines both of whom are interested in buying the ailing national carrier, ‘Cyprus Mail’ reports.
Yesterday Cyprus Airways (CY) held protests outside the Finance Ministry offices where a meeting was being held with Ryanair representatives.
Holding banners that read “no more workers in unemployment”, “shutting down Cyprus Airways=1,000 new unemployed” and “we demand to have our Provident Fund secured”, tension mounted when the employees were refused a meeting with Finance Minister Harris Georgiades.
The future of CY hangs in the balance while an EU Commission decides on the legality of over 100 million euros of government aid money given to the stricken airline in recent years. The action contravenes EU competition law as a similar bailout had been given in 2007, disqualifying the airline from any further aid until 2017. If the commission decides that the pay-out was illegal, CY would have to pay back the money which would immediately bankrupt the company.
Ahead of such a decision, the government has liquidated most of CY’s assets and called on outside investors to buy the company. The only two companies seriously interested are Aegean and Ryanair, however reportedly they have only made very low offers for CY.
According to Cyprus News Agency, the unions fear the loss of employee’s rights and unemployment and have stressed the need for South Cyprus to keep its national carrier, instead of selling it to a foreign company.
Claiming that that employees are the victims, they also blame the government and politicians for the mismanagement of CY which has resulted in the loss of 100 million euros.
President Nicos Anastasiades speaking to the State broadcaster said he would be in favour for having a national carrier if its existence did not burden the tax payer.
“Who wouldn’t want his country to have a national carrier,” Anastasiades said. “But at the same time, we must factor in the cost to the taxpayer of keeping a loss-making entity operational.