Cypriot budget airline Cobalt suspends operations

Low-cost carrier Colbalt has operating flights out of Cyprus since 2016

The airline has warned that Cobalt's offices will not be staffed to help passengers seeking alternative means of travel.

Reports in several Cypriot media outlets this week suggested Cobalt's mainly Chinese backers had difficulty channelling funds to the airline, which operated with six leased Airbus planes.

"Passengers who have un-flown tickets are instructed not to go to Larnaca Airport or any departure airport tomorrow, October 18, 2018 as no Cobalt flights will operate and no Cobalt staff will be present".

It announced it was suspending operations and cancelling all its flights just before midnight on Wednesday (October 17).

They should contact their credit card provider or travel agent instead, it added.

But the Cypriot transport ministry said passengers expecting to fly with Cobalt on Thursday should secure one-way tickets in economy class from another airline and keep their receipt to be reimbursed.

"We sincerely apologize once again and would like to thank our very loyal customers for their support over the last two years of Cobalt operations".

The start-up airline, which was founded after the closure of the country's long-established carrier Cyprus Airways, had been in operation since 2016.

It was not immediately clear how many passengers would be affected, but nine flights had been scheduled to arrive and a further nine to depart at Larnaca airport on Thursday.

According to the transport minister for Cyprus, Vasiliki Anastasiadou, the state will be covering the cost of repatriation of passengers who are left stranded.

There was speculation that it was facing cash-flow problems after two of its aircraft were grounded for two days.

It employs about 200 staff.

Another company has since named itself Cyprus Airways after acquiring the logo and the brand from the Cypriot state.

The airline's largest shareholder is AJ Cyprus, with 49 percent of the shares.

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