12° Nicosia,
25 June, 2024

More routes and airline seats for the winter

From November to March 2023, availability is higher than in 2019, indicating a growing winter tourism footprint

Maria Eracleous

Maria Eracleous

The announcements by Ryanair in the morning and Wizz Air on Monday afternoon to increase the fleet at Cypriot airports and add new routes clearly pleased Hermes Airports and the tourism industry in general, as they are linked to the prospect of increased tourism arrivals. Ryanair, in particular, is increasing seat availability in Cyprus by 15% for the summer of 2023, while Wizz Air will offer an additional 800,000 passenger seats from Larnaca.  

There are typically 448 flights per week in November. In March, the number of flights per week increases to 463.

The airline incentive plan for the period 2023-2027 (passed by the Council of Ministers at the end of October, with co-financing of €165.6 million from the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Works and Hermes Airports Ltd) appears to have played a decisive role in this development. According to Hermes Airports, after Ryanair and Wizz Air, there will be a response and movement from other airlines, though it is not expected that more airlines will open a base in Cyprus by 2023. The development of airline flight schedules to and from Cypriot airports is anticipated. However, data for the winter season indicate that available passenger seats will be increased.

According to Hermes Airports, there will be 3.4 million passenger seats (inbound and outbound) from November 2022 to March 2023. When compared to the corresponding period 2019-2020, there is a 12% increase; 400 thousand more seats this year, and a 37% increase compared to 2021-2022; 700 thousand more seats this year.

Traditional vacation spots

This winter season, 26 airlines are expected to operate 85 routes. The contribution of winter tourism to total arrivals is expected to increase this year compared to 2019. In particular, this year's winter season is expected to account for 25% of total air traffic in 2023, up from 22% in 2019. Seat increases were greatest in traditional destinations such as Athens, Thessaloniki, Tel Aviv, London, Manchester, Beirut, Vienna, and Bucharest when compared to the same period last year.  Routes that were not served during the winter season last year and prior to the pandemic have also been added this year, including Larnaca-Yerevan (Armenia), Larnaca-Rome, Larnaca-Gdansk (Poland), Larnaca-Hamburg, Paphos-Rome, and Paphos-Bolonia (Italy). The average weekly number of flights for both Cypriot airports is 448 in November, 421 in December, a slight decrease of 398 flights in January, 415 flights per week in February, and a significant increase of 463 flights in March.

Wizz Air and Ryanair

Within a span of just a few hours, both airlines announced their plans for expanding their base in Cyprus and adding new routes for the summer season. Ryanair is investing an additional $100 million in Paphos, bringing its total fleet to four aircraft, including two brand new environmentally efficient Boeing 737 8-200 "Gamechanger" aircraft that reduce fuel and CO2 emissions by 16% and noise by up to 40% while carrying 4% more passengers. Furthermore, for summer '23, it is planning to launch the largest summer schedule in Cyprus, with over 260 weekly flights, 15% more than summer '22 and 70% more than summer '19.  There are 41 weekly flights, including five new summer routes from Paphos to Athens, Bordeaux, Naples, Poznan, and Toulouse. It also expands service on seven other routes to Austria, Greece, Israel, Lithuania, and Poland. This represents a 15% increase in seat availability. According to Ryanair's Commercial Director Jason McGuinness, the move is supported by the new Hermes incentive scheme, which is backed by the Cypriot government.  Wizz Air is expanding its base at Larnaca Airport in Larnaca with two Airbus A321neo aircraft, bringing the total number of aircraft to four. At the same time, the number of routes has been increased to 32.  This brings the total number of routes from the base to 32, including the addition of three new routes from Larnaca. A new Larnaca-Riyadh route will begin in April 2023, while new Larnaca-Jenda and Larnaca-Dammamam routes will begin in July. Furthermore, the number of flights from the base to Athens, London, Luton, Prague, Tel Aviv, Thessaloniki, and Yerevan is growing.

Happy New Year 2023!

Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios stated at Ryanair's press conference that arrivals from EU markets have increased by 23% compared to 2019, and he expressed satisfaction with the strengthening of connectivity with these markets, which also serves the objectives of the National Tourism Strategy. When asked about the outlook for next year in light of the recession in many EU countries, the Deputy Minister expressed cautious optimism, stating that 2023 will at least maintain current levels. According to recent surveys, leisure travel is one of the last expenses that consumers are "cutting back" on.  Indeed, the latest signals from the World Travel Market in London are encouraging, as long as tour operators' schedules for next year do not change. Searches for Cyprus on the internet continue to be popular. Cyprus has seen a 20% increase from January to date, with searches up 40% in October compared to the same period in 2019. According to Minister of Transport Yannis Karousos, the strengthening of Wizz Air and Ryanair's presence in Cyprus with new routes and aircraft increases the available passenger seats by 1.3 million, while he expressed confidence that 2023 will be a very good year in terms of tourism. 

[This article was originally published in Greek on Kathimerini's 'Oikonomiki' on Wednesday]

Cyprus  |  tourism

Business: Latest Articles