The government is looking for ferry links to Greece as cheaper alternatives to costly flights, with the shipping deputy minister hoping there will be a weekly connection by next summer.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, Shipping Deputy Minister Natasa Pilides says if funding can be approved to subsidize a ferry link to Greece, it could become an incentive not only for those who want to travel by means other than air but also for promoting the idea that Cyprus ought to offer connections besides flights.
The question whether a ferry link between Cyprus and Greece would be viable has been under discussion for some time, and it was judged to be not commercially viable if costs were to be kept high.
Parliament is backing the plans following an initial proposal sponsored last year, but Pelides, who spoke on state radio on Wednesday, cautioned that a detailed and very thorough study needed to account for all possible scenarios, including the level of comfort for passengers who may be interested in onboard activities. This would ultimately depend on bidders.
It was also noted that other stops could be necessary for the entire venture in order to keep costs down
According to Cyprus News Agency, the deputy minister had previously said that the state would subsidize the connection, while clarifying that funding would not go towards the commercial part.
Pelides expects that the feasibility study, which was concluded recently, would lead to an approval for state funds and then a tender process would start in order to find the right entrepreneurs.
In order for the project to go forward and be successful, Pelides said, the fare will be cheaper than taking a plane to Greece while it would take some 30 hours for the entire trip, most probably between Limassol and Piraeus. It was also noted that other stops could be necessary for the entire venture in order to keep costs down.
Pelides also added that the frequency of the route will be once a week from May to September and in the winter months once every fortnight.
The subsidy terms would first need to be approved by the European Commission ahead of the EU budget, with Pelides saying a lot will depend on actual fares and demand.
“We have contingency plans that will depend obviously on ticket prices but also on demand. We believe we have identified an amount that is quite reasonable for the European Commission, since the fare is not an exorbitant amount, while it is enough to cover businesses that may be interested but would otherwise hesitate if there would be a loss for them,” Pelides said.
Pelides hopes that the ferry link could be established by summer 2020.