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The Mediterranean island of Cyprus is a popular destination among European holidaymakers. Particularly during the summer, swathes of sun-seeking passengers travel to the country on a mixture of scheduled and charter flights. One operator that used to operate a mix of these was Eurocypria Airlines, but what happened to the Larnaca-based carrier?
Eurocypria operated the Boeing 737 in its later years. Photo: Andy Mitchell via Flickr
The airline in a nutshell
The story of Eurocypria Airlines began on March 25th, 1992. On this date, the airline was founded as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cyprus Airways. Cyprus Airways was the Cypriot flag carrier until it ceased operations in January 2015. Meanwhile, Eurocypria made history by being the first charter airline based in the country.
Eurocypria’s charter operations began less than three months later, on June 12th, 1992. Its initial fleet consisted of two Airbus A320s, of which it owned one outright, and leased another from Cyprus Airways. According to Planespotters.net, a third A320, also leased from the Cypriot flag carrier, joined the airline a year after the original pair, in March 1993.
Although Eurocypria Airlines originally came into existence to serve as a charter carrier, it added another string to its bow after the turn of the century. Specifically, 2001 saw it begin operating its first scheduled services alongside its existing charter operations. At the time of its closure, most of the airline’s scheduled destinations were situated in Germany.
Eurocypria commenced operations with a pair of A320s. Photo: Simon Butler via Flickr
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Eurocypria’s aircraft and their fates
The beginning of Eurocypria’s scheduled services also coincided with the arrival of two more A320s. These second-hand aircraft arrived in February and March that year from former Irish charter operator TransAer International Airlines. However, by July 2003, all five of Eurocypria’s A320s had left the fleet. The original three returned to Cyprus Airways, with the newer pair going to Mexicana and Italian low-cost carrier Wind Jet.
The reason for the A320s’ departures was a change in fleet strategy in favor of the Boeing 737-800. Six of these aircraft joined Eurocypria between 2003 and 2006, with four returning to US lessor ILFC when the airline folded in 2010. The other two went straight into service at other operators, namely El Al Israel Airlines and Aeroméxico.
A Eurocypria Airlines Boeing 737-800 departing Manchester, one of its scheduled destinations, in 2006. Photo: Dale Coleman via Wikimedia Commons
The end of the line
But what exactly caused Eurocypria Airlines to cease operations 11 years ago? In 2010, the carrier was in €28 million ($33.8 million) of debt, so the Cypriot government elected to support it with a €35 million (42.3 million) injection. Cyprus Airways opposed this, as it feared that such a small country could not sustainably support two state-funded airlines. The flag carrier had already been forced to sell Eurocypria in 2006 amid financial difficulties.
Later in the year, a merger attempt between the two struggling airlines was considered. It had been hoped that this would be a way of minimizing both carriers’ losses. However, the EU rejected this proposal – interestingly, the initial €35 million injection was likely to have violated EU state aid legislation. This rejection ultimately forced Eurocypria to cease operations in November 2010, with Cyprus Airways also doing so in January 2015.
Did you ever fly with Eurocypria Airlines? If so, was it during the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 era? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
This article first appeared on simpleflying.com
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