Independent Cypriot carrier Cobalt Air was recognised at the recent CAPA – Centre for Aviation Awards for Excellence as the Airline Start-Up of the Year. Rewarded for its activity over the first year of its operations for its innovation and impact on the industry since its launch.
To replace a strong brand such as Cyprus Airways and build up an operation in a market already packed with LCCs and leisure specialists is no easy feat. However, in just over a year Cobalt Air has done that, successfully growing to provide numerous links from Larnaca and Paphos to destinations across Europe and the Middle East.
From launching with just a single dry leased Airbus A320 a number of Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance (ACMI) leases, Cobalt Air has now grown to a fleet of six aircraft and now has ambitions to grow into the long haul market as it looks to develop a hub strategy in Larnaca to overcome its biggest obstacle… the seasonality of its home Cypriot market.
The airline’s CEO, Andrew Madar, says Cobalt Air suffers as a result of Cyprus’ “heavy summer season” as there is a significant demand difference between the “slower” winter season. This winter the airline is adding twice weekly flights between Paphos and Moscow Sheremetyevo to support the strong year-round demand from Russian travellers into Cyprus.
Alongside this new route, Cobalt Air will continue to connect Cyprus via Larnaca and Paphos airports to major business and leisure centres on high frequency, value fare services including Athens (daily), London (daily via Stansted & Gatwick) as well as Frankfurt using its hybrid business model with a business class offering, an option for both business and leisure customers.
The Blue Swan Daily caught up with Andrew Madar at the recent CAPA-ACTE Global Summit in London, UK, where he highlighted the airline’s solutions to the seasonality issue, namely building connectivity between the Middle East and Europe via Larnaca and with the introduction of long haul flights across a network that will include China, India, South Africa and USA. He also said that he does not see the return of the Cyprus Airways brand into the local market as direct competition, but noted Aegean Airlines and LCC Blue Air as its main rivals.