Greeting from Larnaka Airport

Greetings from a vantage point overlooking the new Larnaka Airport site; where the pace of construction is gaining momentum. By all accounts it will surely be delivered on time later in November of this year to much fanfare. The construction Company responsible is the mighty Bouygues International (reported to be the biggest construction Company in the world) who have been successful in building a reputation for delivering on time in Cyprus. Recent evidence of which can be found in the new Paphos Charter Airport, that was successfully delivered in Autumn 2008. Larnaka is the central “Gateway of Cyprus” though and the new airport will be a state of the art facility catering for a capacity of 7.5 million passengers (not bad for a country of only 800,000 residents). This will launch the Island into the 21st century where airport terminals or entry points to Cyprus are concerned, and it’s a quantum leap from the current terminal shed looking building.

The main concern however is not how wonderful the airport will be, instead how much it will cost in terms of airport taxes? Currently the airport operator Hermes Group in league with the Government charge more than any other competitive airport in there region and that is before the new facility is completed. In balance aircraft traffic did appreciate last year at the existing Larnaka Airport all be it slight, however as we enter a period of certain recession throughout Europe it does not take a Rocket Scientist to work out that Cyprus may be out pricing itself. We urge the Hermes Group and Government to lower the airport taxes to compete with surrounding airports and holiday destinations or face the consequences of Tourism depreciation. The CTO (Cyprus Tourism Organization) has committed to an excellent plan of airport development with new cutting edge facilities, creating the right impression from the moment of arrival. This follows the strategy to improve the quality of Tourists arriving to the Island. However, in the short term the reality of recession and competitiveness means taxes must come down, otherwise the impact of the downturn will be greater, especially where the heavily relied upon UK market is concerned.

Interestingly it came to our attention that the President of Bouygues International visited Cyprus recently. It is understood that he arrived by Private Jet and actually christened the new Larnaka Airport to make a site inspection. Bouygues International is a member of the Zenon Group Consortium, which is in the running for the tender of the private Larnaka Cruise Port and Marina. Apparently he stayed at the Aphrodite Hills Luxury Resort and attended a meeting with President Christofias of the Republic of Cyprus, the agenda for which few people know for sure. With construction of the new international airport of Larnaka finishing in November 2009, it would be an ideal scenario for Bouygues International and the Zenon Group as a whole to effectively move the construction site to the port.

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