TRAVEL: Paphos worried as Germania folds its wings, ministry ‘unconcerned’

Hoteliers and the Paphos Regional Board of Tourism (ETAP) are worried over the gap created following the closure of low-cost air carrier Germania and the loss of some 45,000 tourists that arrived from Germany last year.

The company declared bankruptcy on Tuesday cancelling all flights, including six flights a week to Paphos airport, and four to Larnaca, one of which from Zurich. The airline failed to secure financing to meet a short-term cash squeeze and cancelled all flights immediately.

According to Deputy Ministry of Tourism sources, Germania had been convinced by its predecessor, the then Cyprus Tourism Organisation, airports operator Hermes and ETAP, to add Paphos to the destinations with flights from Dusseldorf, Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen and Erfurt.

According to Hermes, winter arrivals numbered around 700 passengers a week.

The closure creates concerns as to what will happen to that market, as a number of tourists from Germany have booked flights to Paphos and holidays during the remainder of the winter season.

ETAP said in a press announcement that although it is not easy to replenish the vacuum created, hopes are high that other airliners will jump in to cover flights from destinations such as Berlin.

The Paphos tourism board added that the development will have a negative impact and that it is imperative for the competent authorities such as the Deputy Ministry of Tourism step in.

Michalis Chailis, the Secretary to the Deputy Minister of Tourism, told the Financial Mirror that although the development saddens them, they are not concerned.

Top Kinisis, the airline’s general sales representative in Cyprus, said that around 80% of visitors had booked online and would be sorted out by the airline. It added that the few Cypriots who had bookings with Germania should contact their bank to secure a refund, as was the case with Cobalt airlines.

The insolvency of Germania, which carried around 4 mln passengers each year, follows on from the failure of Germany’s second-biggest airline, Air Berlin, in 2017, and underscores the turbulence in the European airlines industry, according to the Cyprus Mail.

Germania, founded in 1986, blamed rising fuel prices, a stronger dollar, delays in integrating new aircraft into its fleet as well as a high number of maintenance services for the cash shortage, the newspaper added.

For now, the two subsidiaries of Germania, Swiss airline Germania Flug AG and Bulgarian Eagle should not be affected by the bankruptcy, according to the Aerotime News website.

“With us, the business continues as usual. We are on course, i.e. the ongoing winter timetable and the 2019 summer timetable will be maintained as planned, and planning for the winter of 2019/20 is already under way, commented Urs A. Pelizzoni, board member of Germania Flug AG.

Just like a month ago, unforeseeable events are cited as the reason behind the need for short-term liquidity, and eventually the bankruptcy of the airline. Like Primera Air, Small Planet, VLM, and Skywork that all ceased operations in 2018, Germania was affected by fuel prices, a weak currency exchange rate and struggles with fleet renewal and maintenance. Germania was expecting an order of 25 Airbus A320neos by 2020.

Source: The Financial Mirror