Cyprus’ deputy shipping minister says a successful bidder for a state-subsidized ferry link to Greece has been invited to submit a proposal, with reports indicating a summer link could be launched this year.
Deputy Minister Vassilis Demetriades has said a Cyprus-Greece ferry link could be launched as early as the last week of June, saying a combination of factors made the latest public tender ‘more attractive’ to investors .
Nicosia has been trying for years to revive a ferry link between the island’s south coast and mainland Greece, but potential investors have argued that financial risks and year-round service conditions in the calls previous public offerings made it impossible to move forward without more assurance from the state.
Last year Nicosia went back to the drawing board after no bidders showed up. Previously, shipping companies had shown interest but were unconvinced by the state’s plan to pour up to €5m of national funds a year on a 36-month contract for a ferry that would carry at least 200 low-cost passengers.
Demetriades told Cypriot public radio on Tuesday that a better bidder had been selected after more attractive terms were offered, but declined to identify the company until a finalized proposal and signatures were completed further. later this month.
The minister said previous failed attempts were due to investors not wanting to hire vessels to Cyprus all year round, adding that a seasonality term introduced now meant vessels would sail from May to September.
Demetriades also said an increase in state subsidies to €5.5 million was another factor, as the bidder would be in a “better position to cover fuel costs”.
A previous ferry link was discontinued in 2000. Experts and some officials had previously expressed concern over the ferry link, suggesting it may not be commercially viable. But Demetriades remains hopeful and said more details will be announced soon, including prices and itinerary. According to the Minister, the conditions of the public tender provided for maximum fares set at €50 one-way and €80 return. “We actually expect these fares to be much lower than the top price,” Demetriades said.
The ferry should connect Limassol to Piraeus, although the bidder still has time to choose to go with Larnaca instead.