Research Center
Cyprus Economy

CYPRUS: Travellers paying a higher price for flights this Christmas

07 December, 2018

Travellers looking to spend Christmas abroad while students wanting to return home will be paying a higher price for an airfare than previous years as the market has yet to recover from the closure of Cobalt.

The expected increase in airport traffic during the holiday season, coupled with the void created with the collapse of Cobalt Air in October, has pushed prices upwards in comparison to tickets sold for the same period last year.

Commenting on the difference in prices from last year’s airfares, travel agents find that Cobalt’s demise has put a squeeze on airlines flying to and from Cyprus.

Vasilis Stamataris, President of the Cyprus Travel Agents Association, said that prices are a bit higher than the norm for the festive period because of a domino effect caused by Cobalt.

“When the company closed down, people who had bought early tickets for the holiday season with Cobalt, were either moved to other airlines by their travel agencies or had made other arrangements buying tickets on other flights.

“There were flights added to Greece for December, immediately after the closure, which was almost filled upon their announcement,” Stamataris said.

He noted this period after Cobalt’s closure is a difficult one, with prices being pushed up due to the lack of supply, but he expects that the rules of the market will soon regulate prices.

“Prices may not be as low as they were when Cobalt was flying, but we expect that they will definitely drop, once more flights are added and new airlines come into play,” said Stamataris.

He explained that already flight schedules previously operated by Cobalt are being revived.

“There are a few gaps, as flight schedules to destinations like Paris have yet to be reinstated but we expect that to be resolved soon, as some airlines have exhibited interest to take on these flights,” he said.

ACTA’s President added that paying a slightly higher price for airfares, is to the benefit of travellers.

“What we want and need, especially in an island country like Cyprus, is healthy and safe airlines which will not close overnight.”

Airports operator Hermes confirmed that flight capacity was tight as the loss of Cobalt was not compensated for.

Maria Kouroupi, senior manager at Hermes Aviation Development and Communication Department, although not in a position to estimate traffic on flights to favourite destinations, such as Athens and London, confirmed that flights are expected to be filled up to the last seat.

“We have not seen the overall traffic at Cyprus airports affected by Cobalt’s closure. Quite the contrary we expect to see an overall annual increase of 20,000 passengers compared to last year,” said Kouroupi.

She added that efforts to draw in new airlines to fill the void created by the collapsed of the largest Cypriot-owned carrier are ongoing.

Tickets during the festive season for a return trip to Athens, the number one holiday destination among Cypriots, could cost more than EUR 600.

As of 20 December, till the end of the year, fares from EUR 130 to EUR 320 for a one-way ticket to the Greek capital.

One-way fares to London range between EUR 248 and EUR 409, with the cheapest ticket on Christmas Eve going for EUR 108.

Advising travellers on how to save money, ACTA said Cypriots should book early.

“Travellers who are looking to book a flight today for Christmas will quite naturally pay a higher price than what they would have if they booked it a few months in advance,” said Stamataris.

“Opting to travel to a popular destination during an off-peak period will allow travellers to find cheaper air tickets” he added.