Cyprus airline looks to Greece

Cyprus Airways said yesterday it would decide by early March whether it will set up its own carrier for the Greek market. The state-controlled airline last year pulled out of the bidding for Greece’s national carrier, Olympic Airways. «We are now conducting a study of the form the company will take, the airplanes it will need, the destinations it will serve and who its partner might be,» Haris Loizidis, president of Cyprus Airways, told a news conference. He said a decision will be made by the end of the month or early March. «Greece, with a population of 11 million, has room for two airlines,» Loizidis said, adding that operating in Greece would also facilitate his company’s expansion into Europe. Cyprus Airways pulled out of the competition for Olympic after being ranked third by privatization adviser Credit Suisse First Boston. Loizidis admitted holding talks with privately owned Aegean Airlines on the possibility of cooperation but said no commitments had been made by either side. He criticized the Greek government’s aid to Olympic and the high charges levied by Athens International Airport. He also called for greater clarification of market conditions and fares in Greece. Loizidis said a series of measures to curb expenses and adjust fares had helped the company weather the crisis. «Because of a series of actions, our results in 2001 are much better than projected after September 11,» he said. He said that Cyprus Airways was increasing the number of daily flights from Cyprus to Athens to four from three and that this would rise to five in the summer, underlining the 11-percent annual average increase in passenger volume.

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