The future of Cyprus Airways is once again up in the air following reports that its Russian private shareholder S7 is looking to sell its entire stake in the Larnaca-based Charlie Airlines.
According to foreign reports, S7 appears to want to pull out of Larnaca amid a variety of reasons following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the European aviation industry.
But industry sources in the media also said there were additional reasons for S7 wanting to move away from Charlie Airlines, an airline doing business as Cyprus Airways that also allows the Russian group to operate within the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.
Filev, an enthusiastic ex-aviator often described as Russia’s Elon Musk, had told S7 shareholders the group was interested in learning more about operating under a European license
In 2016, one year after Cyprus Airways went under, S7 Airlines owner Vladislav Filev stepped in and bought the rights to the Cypriot company’s name, livery, and image for the newly founded Charlie Airlines, inspired by a nickname used for Greek Cypriots from England according to the S7 owner.
Filev, an enthusiastic ex-aviator paying attention to the younger generations and often described as Russia’s Elon Musk, had told S7 shareholders the group was interested in learning more about operating under a European license.
"For us it is very important to work with the air operator certificate in EASA zone which will give us new knowledge, new experience and new approaches to safety management organization. It's not the business, it is more like a school," Vladislav Filev reportedly had said in 2016.
But a conventional experience within EASA may no longer be panning out for S7 due to the pandemic crisis, amid additional reports of consolidation challenges but also many growth opportunities in the Russian domestic market.
In 2019, Filev’s wife Natalia Fileva was killed in a private plane crash in Germany. The 55-year-old woman, who was a major shareholder and chairwoman of S7 Airlines formerly known as Siberia Airlines, was credited with the rebranding of the private company.
Meanwhile, according to Kathimerini Cyprus, the question for Cyprus Airways would be whether a new investor would be found to invest in the bankrupt company and what could that mean for the airline’s historic name. It is also unclear whether the state might want to get involved.