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Ferry Link from Cyprus to Greece May Start May 2021 – Maybe Not

Αssociated Press

People walk during a heatwave at Ledra Street, a popular shopping thoroughfare in the medieval core of capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

It's been said before without happening but now there's a report that Cyprus and Greece, during a time when international air traffic is down over COVID-19 and alternatives to flying are being promoted – could begin in May, 2021.

It was supposed to begin this summer, before the pandemic hit, but there were concerns about the cost and whether people be willing to travel 30 hours over water when a flight between the countries takes only one hour and 40 minutes.

Cypriot Deputy Shipping Minister Vassilis Demetriades stated that the May goal is within reach, reported TheMayor.EU, and that there could be stops along the way, including on Rhodes.

The ferry would likely begin in Limassol and go to the major port of Piraeus and the trip cost 50-80 euros ($58.94-$94.31) although budget airlines offer prices as low as 35.63 euros ($42) which the ferry can't match.

The EU is helping fund the project which may appeal to the adventurous or those who prefer taking a leisurely water voyage during a time when flying has become so confined over COVID-19 health protocols.

The ferry was discontinued more than 20 years ago because it was losing money as people preferred flying to save time and money.

In October, 2018, the idea was revisited but it was said then that any chance of bringing back the ferry service would require at least 5 million euros ($5.89 million) a year to cover losses as Cypriot officials petitioned for its revival.

Nicos Tornariteis and Annita Demetriou, Members of Parliament from Cyprus' Democratic Rally (DISY) party,  made their case before the Cyprus-Greece Business Association, saying the ferry is needed, not just air links.

Tornaritis said Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades endorsed the project and has given instructions to the Transportation Ministry and the Deputy Shipping Ministry to prepare a study to convince the EU to help pay for it, The Financial Mirror said.

But there was less interest from businesses involved in shipping and tourism who doubt it can work and members of the Cyprus-Greece Business Association said there's no hope without EU monies because of the estimated operating loss.

Without EU funding a ticket for a round trip to Greece on a passenger ferry may could cost as much as 800 euros (($942.85) nearly 20  times the cost of the cheapest air ticket.

The estimate is based on a 100 people per trip with the petrol needed for the journey there and back costing €150,000 ($172,760) in fuel, said Salamis Shipping CEO, Kikis Vassiliou, who said a ferry able to make the trip through the Mediterranean at speeds which would make it worthwhile for travellers to go by sea, would cost as much as 40 million euros ($46.07 million).

“When a ticket to Athens costs as little as 50 euros, travellers will not opt to travel by sea and spend 20 hours at a cost which will be considerably higher,” said Salamis Shipping CEO, Kikis Vassiliou,Vassiliou then.

Salamis Tours had operated the last ferry link to Greece from 1993-2000 when demand had faded out and trips stopped. Vassiliou explained that after airfares were liberalized in 2000, a series of airlines came to Cyprus and prices plummeted.

“This led travelers preferring to travel by plane, and us to deal with unfair competition. The port taxes alone cost more than air tickets, which are 45 EUR at each port for each person. Following this development, we were forced to sell those ferries for scrap at humiliating prices,” he also said.