Ryanair about to make Cyprus landing

Ryanair: The Full Story of the Controversial Low-Cost Airline
AFTER MORE than three years of on-off discussions, and several weeks of hard negotiating, low-cost airline Ryanair is finally set to start operating routes out of Cyprus from November, using the island as part of its strategy to offer flights to Israel and the Middle East.
The official announcement will be made today, following the clinching of the deal on Monday evening.
Both Hermes Airports and Dublin-based Ryanair remained tight-lipped yesterday on details but a well-placed source in the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the decision was based on three main factors.
Firstly, Ryanair managed to reach an agreement with Hermes Airports on an acceptable level of landing charges, in combination with the government’s continuing emergency subsidy of all airlines to the tune of 25 per cent of landing charges plus an additional payment of €4 per traveller.
High landing charges at the new Larnaca and Paphos airports – passed on to travellers in the form of “airport taxes” – formed the main sticking-point in past negotiations between Ryanair and the Cypriot authorities, and were also criticised publicly by the International Air Carriers Association (IACA).
Secondly, the CTO has agreed to provide a “significant” marketing spend targeted on the two routes – which will only be identified at the news conference today – which “currently are not being serviced by existing operators”. Such spending does not contravene EU competition rules.
Thirdly, the source said that Ryanair’s idea of using Cyprus as a hub for routes to and from various shorter-range European destinations, such as Stockholm, Milan, Pisa, Marseille, Barcelona and Dusseldorf – but also Israel and the Middle East – “had matured”.
“My own view is that the gap between our positions narrowed because Ryanair decided that it could not wait any longer to implement its strategy for the Middle East”, the source said.
Two years ago, Ryanair’s Director of Route Development told a hoteliers’ conference in Nicosia that the airline could initially bring in 60,000 to 70,000 new tourists a year, and after a few years this could increase to as much as 750,000 a year.
Yesterday, Hermes Airports issued a statement welcoming what it described as a “very important development”, and said that the airline itself will announce the full details of its new operations in Cyprus today.
Asked about the Hermes Airports announcement, Ryanair told the Mail: “We didn’t announce anything regarding our operations, and nobody else would be entitled to say whatever about our operations, so we understand that there are rumours and speculation on which we do not want to comment.” However, they confirmed that a Ryanair representative will be present at the press conference.
Ryanair is Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, the third largest airline in Europe in terms of passenger numbers and the largest in the world in terms of international passenger numbers – almost 59 million in 2008, with a target of over 73 million in the current fiscal year. The airline has 44 bases operating 1,100-plus low fare routes across 26 countries, connecting 157 destinations.
The news of Ryanair’s arrival in Cyprus will be welcomed by many here, especially those involved in the mass tourism market, which has seen a sharp drop in arrivals in the last two years as travellers opted for cheaper destinations.
As an indication of the big difference in prices offered by low-cost airlines compared to national carriers, an internet search yesterday on travel website www.ebookers.com showed that a flight from London to Larnaca on November 3, returning a week later, would cost £132.57 all-in on EasyJet, £135.14 on Monarch, £273.47 on British Airways and £273.47 on Cyprus Airways.
Travellers will be very interested to see whether famously-competitive Ryanair chooses to improve on these existing “half-price” low-cost deals.
Although the low-cost airline model is much admired by budget travellers, it also has its fair share of critics, often centred on instances of poor customer service. There is also a regular debate about what exactly constitutes “frills” – such as complimentary food and drink – that can reasonably be excluded from the headline ticket price.
For example, a lot of ancillary revenues are generated for some airlines by the quantity and weight of luggage that holiday travellers need to take with them, beyond the maximum allowed on a “no-frills” basis.

Source: Cyprus Mail

Perpetual Traveller Comment
Ryanair have been in talks for years with the Cypriot authorities and the general sentiment amongst the locals is that they will believe it when they see it! 

Of course Ryanair is expected to bring lower fares to the Island of Cyprus, which should further increase traffic. However, the most expensive busy route being Larnaca - Athens is unlikely to be addressed, as Cyprus Airways, Aegean and Olympic have collectively maintained a Monopoly for years with high prices considering the distance. 

The other major issue is the expense to get anywhere on and off the Island during the various high seasons over the Summer, Christmas and Easter periods etc. So far all other Low Cost Carriers serving Cyprus such as Monarch, Easy jet, Blueair etc have hiked prices during the peak season, often selling at similar prices to the scheduled carriers. 

The most interesting aspect of the Rynair deal is the potential for new economic routes and barcelona in particular is sure to be a hit with Cypriots!