UK tour operators have fought off plans for Ryanair to offer subsidised flights to Cyprus from the UK as part of a cut-price deal on airport charges at Larnaca and Paphos.
The carrier has announced services from Charleroi (Belgium) to Larnaca and will add flights from Stockholm or Madrid shortly – but no UK services.
UK operators had threatened to pull out if the deal was extended to Britain, claiming additional capacity was not needed. Ryanair had wanted to fly from Stansted.
Sunvil Holidays managing director Noel Josephides said: “We tour operators said ‘If there is a UK route, there will be hardly any tour operator capacity to Cyprus’.
“Thank goodness the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) understood there is enough capacity already from the UK.”
Ryanair pledged to deliver 500,000 passengers to Cyprus over five years in return for a deal on top of an existing subsidy to airlines of 25% on landing charges and €4 (£3.30) per passenger.
A Ryanair spokesman confirmed the agreement, but declined to discuss the carrier’s expansion to Cyprus saying the issue was “very sensitive”.
CTO UK director Orestis Rossides said: “The UK tour operators were upset. We did not want anyone to cannibalise the market.
“This does not affect the UK for the time being.”
Alfred van der Meer, chief executive of Hermes Airports, which runs Larnaca and Paphos airports, told the Cyprus Mail: “We are giving Ryanair a discount on the passenger seats they don’t use, if they deliver on annual targets.”
Thomas Cook threatened to pull out of the Canary Islands in March in protest over similar subsidies agreed with Ryanair.