Ryanair confirms plan to submit bid for Cyprus Airways
Ryanair is set to make a bid for Cyprus Airways ahead of Friday's deadline for offers to buy the ailing flag carrier. Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs confirmed a non-binding bid would be submitted this Friday.
He said the company had had a "successful meeting" with government and aviation officials in Cyprus last week.
He added that the field of potential buyers had been whittled down to just a handful and said the Cypriot authorities were "keen on Ryanair" given its proven track record.
He said buying the airline would make "good sense", and open up passenger channels in the region as well as from the Middle East.
Airline boss Michael O'Leary was on the island last week to submit a proposal to the government that would involve the acquisition of all or part of Cyprus Airways, which has seen its annual traffic volumes plummet to about 600,000 from 3m a few years ago.
Mr O'Leary said he believes Ryanair could help put Cyprus Airways and the island's tourism sector "back on a path of a very much renewed and rapid growth, with new routes, more flights and new jobs for pilots, cabin crew and engineers".
The Cypriot government owns 94% of Cyprus Airlines, which has already received more than €100m in state aid.
Mr O'Leary said earlier that under the terms of a takeover agreement, the Cyprus Airways brand would have to be retained.
The carrier operates just six aircraft. He also said he hopes something will come of Ryanair's interest in Cyprus Airways, but warned the outcome isn't certain. "It's a very political process down there," he said.
Ryanair has only ever bought one other airline – Buzz – which it subsumed into its own operation.
Bidders for Cyprus Airways have until the end of next week to provide a non-binding proposal for acquiring the airline. Other bidders are understood to include Lebanese airline MEA, Israel's Arkia and Romanian carrier Blue Air. A sale could be concluded before the end of the year.