Cyprus Airways has confirmed it will sell its last remaining daily slot pair at London’s Heathrow Airport to US carrier American Airlines for $31 million. The confirmation of the deal, which follows earlier discussions with Qatar Airways, concludes one of the key measures that were included in the Restructuring Plan submitted to the European Commission as part of its Restructuring Aid application.
The sale of the slot pair for the carrier’s daily Larnaca service – flights CY346 and CY347 – will result in Cyprus Airways switching its London operations to Stansted Airport from September 14, 2014. According to a company statement the deal will not only “enhance the company’s liquidity for 2015”, but will permit it to “change its frequency and improve flight times” which it was unable to do at the slot constrained Heathrow Airport.
Cyprus Airways is no stranger to Stansted Airport and has been serving the London facility over the past two decades to provide additional capacity alongside the Heathrow operation. It last offered regular flights there with an up to three times weekly flight from Larnaca between December 2011 and September 2012. Before that it offered a twice weekly year-round flight from Paphos and a three times weekly seasonal link from Larnaca during the 2000s.
The market between UK and Cyprus is highly competitive. Alongside Cyprus Airways eight other carriers will offer scheduled flights between the two countries this summer. The Mediterranean island has for a long time been a popular leisure destination for British tourists with many now having holiday homes or living there. Meanwhile, there is also a notable Cypriot community in the UK, most notably in North London.
According to published flight schedules, this August, at the peak of the northern hemisphere summer holiday season, there will be almost 158,000 seats offered in each direction between Cyprus and the UK. The data from OAG Schedules Analyser shows Thomson Airways as the largest provider between the two countries with a 25.8 per cent share of capacity, followed by easyJet (19.3 per cent), Monarch Airlines (15.6 per cent) and Thomas Cook Airlines (12.1 per cent). Other airlines offering scheduled links in this market are Bitish Airways, Jet2.com, Norwegian and Ryanair.
Although Cyprus Airways will account for just 3.7 percent of the capacity in August 2014, the carrier’s scheduled Larnaca – London link accounts for around 17.7 percent of the available seats during the quieter winter months. The UK – Cyprus market is very seasonal and our analysis, below, highlighting annual seat capacity by month clearly shows how capacity rises during the summer months.