LONDON – Cyprus’ reliance on tourists from the United Kingdom – the island’s former Colonial ruler – is being disrupted by chaos at British airports that led to more than 1,000 flights to the island in May and worries it will continue.
Adding to the anxiety is that the UK is a critical market for Cyprus, which has lost Russian visitors over European Union sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine, the island a prime destination for them.
Paphos airport was worst affected, with 264 incoming flights delayed in May – accounting for 26 percent of the hub’s total, while 294 outbound flights were delayed, 29 percent of the scheduled flights, said The Cyprus Mail.
Larnaca faced 223 delayed incoming flights (12 percent) with a similar figure for outbound flights and reports from the UK say travelers there are nearly panicked, wondering if they will be able to fly during the summer.
EasyJet, Wizz Air, British Airways have been hard hit while the major travel agency Tui under fire in the British media for mismanaging travel packages that has seen some passengers stranded at times.
Senior officials at the Cyprus hotel owner’s association told the newspaper they haven’t gotten reports of any serious impact despite the cancellation of flights but acknowledged it could get worse.
Hermes Airports, which operates the Republic’s two airports in Paphos and Larnaca, announced that despite the difficulties that about 885,000 travellers made it to the island in May.
Britain has long been the strongest market and source of tourists for Cyprus, in 2018 making up 30 percent of the 3,938,625 visitors for that year and Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios said arrivals from the UK are expected to reach one million this year.