NICOSIA – Some 22 years after the last run, a ferry from Cyprus to Greece could start as soon as this summer with the bidder for the route being asked to expedite the operation to take advantage of the high tourism season.
Shipping Deputy Minister Vasilis Demetriades said the hope is that it could be launced at the end of June and that there’s been a successful bidder but be refused to say who it is, reported Kathimerini Cyprus.
Prospective investors fell by the wayside previously, believing it would be a money-losing proposition, especially with flights taking only 1 hour and 50 minutes and sometimes even cheaper than what the ferry would cost.
The ferry would take some 16 hours and cost 50 euros ($56) one way or 80 euros ($89 round trip) but wouldn’t pay the cost so in November, 2021 it was reported that the government would include a subsidy of 5.5 million euros ($5.97 million) for a three-year contract and consider an extension for another three years, said the site Shipping News. “We actually expect these fares to be much lower than the top price,” Demetriades said.
At that time it was said the service will be offered on a weekly basis between April-May to September-October only as a seasonal service and have 22 return sailings annually on a limited service during peak periods before the summer now apparently would be included.
“Reviving the ferry connection will help us to continue building our relationship with the rest of the Mediterranean and we welcome the opportunity to expand the ferry link to a third neighboring country beyond Greece too,” Demetriades said.
The plan was to begin the service in 2021 but there weren’t any bidders despite the government’s offer of a subsidy for a 36-month contract for a ferry that would carry at least 200 passengers at low prices.
He told state radio on April 19 previous failed attempts were due to investors not wanting to commit ships to Cyprus all-year-round, adding that a seasonality term introduced this time meant ships would sail only between May and September.
A previous ferry connection between Greece and Cyprus was terminated in 2000. Experts and some officials had previously expressed concern over the ferry link, suggesting it might not be commercially viable.
Another reason for reviving the boat line, it was said, was to accommodate Cypriot who can’t take an airplane or are afraid to fly. The ferry is expected to link Limassol with Piraeus, although the successful bidder still has time to choose to go with Larnaca, as the contract would allow only one of the two Cypriot port towns, the report said of the options.