NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus Airways yesterday said lower tourist traffic and higher operating and depreciation costs widened its operating loss to 22.8 million Cyprus pounds ($42.4 million) for the first half of 2003 from 4.7 million a year earlier. The company said it expects the results of the second half, which incorporates the peak tourist months of July and August, to be markedly improved over the first half but warned that due to continuing difficult conditions in the global airline sector, it would not recoup losses for the first six months. The airline said in a statement that its pretax loss for the six months ended June 30 was 20.3 million pounds, including its share of profits from an associated company, and cited net losses of 17.6 million for the six-month period. In 2002, the airline had clocked up net profits of 3 million pounds for the first half and 10.4 million for the full year. The group’s total revenues, excluding Cyprus Airways (Duty-Free Shops) Ltd, for the first six months of 2003 reached 74.2 million in comparison to 79.3 million for the first six months of 2002. Cyprus Airways passenger numbers decreased 4 percent during the first six months compared to a year earlier. The carrier said it had managed to increase its market share to 37.4 percent during the first half of 2003 from 26.6 percent for the same period last year. The group’s first-half operating expenditure, which includes cost of sales and administration expenses, rose 15.5 percent to 97 million pounds from 84 million a year earlier, due mainly to increased aircraft depreciation costs after the delivery of the two Airbus A319 aircraft and higher staff costs. The higher expenditures also included 2.8 million pounds of consolidated costs from the firm’s new Greek subsidiary, Hellas Jet.