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RYANAIR SETS UP PAPHOS AIRPORT HUB

RYANAIR announced it would base two aircraft at Paphos, offering 80 flights a week to 14 new destinations as of April by investing nearly €110 million to bring in 600,000 passengers a year and provide 600 jobs.

Patra, Chania, Frankfurt Hahn, Kaunus, Krakow, London-Stansted, Memmingen, Bergamo, Oslo, Pisa, Rome, Stockholm, Thessaloniki and Treviso are the 14 new destinations. The routes are available for booking as of today on www.ryanair.com.

The low-cost carrier will be the first airline to take advantage of the government’s new incentives to boost tourism, which includes a substantial drop in landing fees.

“This is a watershed, a turning point in aviation and tourism for Cyprus,” said Michael Cawley, Ryanair’s deputy chief told a news conference in Nicosia yesterday.

The Cyprus Tourism Organisation’s (CTO) head Alecos Orountiotis called it “a significant day” in Cypriot tourism. “We hope that the development with this specific airline will be the first step and that new interest will be shown from other airlines so we have the potential to open new markets for Cypriot tourism and expand tourist traffic to the island,” said Orountiotis.

The new incentives came into force at the end of December, following an agreement signed by the government and Hermes Airports. They include a reduction in landing fees in a bid to bring in extra visitors and increase revenue by €400 million, as well as incentives for airlines that pledge to use the island’s airports for at least five years.

Under the plan, airport charges will be reduced by €25 per passenger for airlines who bring in 250,000 or more visitors a year, with the cost of the reduction being borne by Hermes to the tune of 64.48 per cent and the government by 35.52 per cent.

“We want to unlock the country’s potential in tourism, but we want it to be sustained tourist development so people not only come once because it’s cheap, but three or four times,” said Hermes Airports’ chief executive officer, Alfred Van der Meer, who heralded the venture as “a great vote of confidence in the airport’s potential.”

“We know the benefits of low-cost access and if visitors can’t get to their destination cheaply and quickly then you’re at a disadvantage, but the base – Ryanair’s 50th – will give Cyprus the advantage it needs,” said Cawley.

Van der Meer stressed that the collaboration between Hermes and the government was available to all airlines.

Paphos Mayor Savvas Vergas extended his welcome and thanks to the airline along with representatives from the Cyprus Hotels Association and the Paphos Chamber of Commerce and its Tourist Board, which also praised Ryanair, and the government for their initiatives.

Quizzed on why Paphos was chosen as a base Cawley said that the airport allowed for a 25-minute turnaround. “But the routes in Larnaca will definitely be maintained and we may enlarge it,” he added.

Ryanair currently has four routes from Larnaca airport; Brussels, Barcelona, Dusseldorf and Bologna.

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