Cobalt Airways to Launch in June

Cobalt airline is aiming to revolutionise the local travel market by launching low-cost flights between Cyprus and far-flung destinations, including China, the Cyprus Mail reports.

Cobalt Air is set to roll out entirely new routes to Europe, Asia and the Middle East using an initial fleet of five Airbus jetliners.
“We are launching in June, right into the summer peak. That date is not going to shift; we are well on track for that launch,” CEO Andrew Pyne told the Sunday Mail.
Despite already being dubbed the ‘new unofficial national carrier’, Cobalt insists its model is based on low-cost efficiencies and bears no relation to the now-defunct Cyprus Airways.
The company, which has set up office in the Artemidos Tower near Larnaca Airport, already has over 100 staff on the payroll and will take delivery of their first plane next week.
Cobalt is owned and controlled by Cypriot nationals, but has a significant Chinese investment component.
In his first interview about the project, Pyne said Cobalt is not attempting to poach traffic from full-service or low-cost carriers, but is focused on generating new traffic, new destinations and developing a ‘Cyprus hub’.
“In reality there are dozens of airlines we will be competing with. We are certainly not going out of our way to target other airlines as a competitor or to snatch traffic from them. None of the carriers like Aegean, Blue Air or RyanAir, Wizz have any interest in developing a hub here.”
For now, the company is keeping the scale of ticket fares under wraps, but insist they will operate a low-cost model ‘with a twist’.
“I regard myself as a low cost expert, a specialist,” Pyne said. “But there are a dozen ways we will differentiate ourselves from other low cost airlines.”
Pyne says the company is looking to link Cyprus with destinations where connectivity has been reduced or is non-existent, in addition to linking the ‘untapped areas’ in the Middle East and North Africa through Larnaca into Europe.
“This is something no airline has done effectively before, it’s a new concept. It really is focused on developing Larnaca as a genuine hub for the entire region,” he said.

Pyne would not be drawn on media speculation or online chatter that Cobalt would serve cities across the UK and Ireland, but did acknowledge that it was a “reasonable bet, as it’s a huge market”.

“Russia and the UK generate a vast amount of inbound tourism, the UK has a more balanced route as there are lots of Cypriots with links to the UK and there is a British expat population. So I think we can’t ignore those markets.”
Furthermore, unlike Ryan Air, which have been openly critical about high airport taxes in Cyprus, Cobalt say their concern is with handling charges at Larnaca.
“We have some serious concerns about the handling charges at Larnaca. This is not the airport authorities or Hermes, but that there is a duopoly of two handling agents, and they both offer pricing which is very close to each other, so I think there is a case for more competition in that market,” Pyne added.
When it launches will become the second new airline to take off this year. TUS airways, which is also based at Larnaca, is already running regular flights to Tel Aviv and Haifa.
The airline aims to connect Cyprus with neighbouring countries via short-haul frequent flights on a daily basis, serving both business and leisure travellers.