Cobalt: Cypriot budget airline goes bust

PIC: PA
PIC: PA
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A low-cost Cypriot airline which serves UK airports has ceased trading.

Cobalt, which operated flights to and from Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted airports, cancelled all flights from 11.50pm on Wednesday. (Oct 17)

A statement on its website advised passengers not to go to airports as “no Cobalt flights will operate and no Cobalt staff will be present”.

It added: “We sincerely apologise once again and would like to thank our very loyal customers for their support over the last two years of Cobalt operations.”

Cyprus’ ministry of transport advised stranded passengers to book a flight home on another airline and keep “all the evidence and receipts to be eligible for reimbursement”.

Passengers due to fly with Cobalt in the next seven days “will be informed with subsequent announcements for arrangements for their repatriation”, according to the statement.

Cyprus’ transport minister Vassiliki Anastassiadou wrote on Twitter: “Hard times. Our thoughts are close to the staff of Cobalt. At the same time, we (will) do everything possible to minimise the inconvenience of passengers.”

Travel firms who sold Atol-protected package holidays with Cobalt flights are responsible for providing alternative flights to bring people home or full refunds for those with future bookings.

But the only protection for anyone who made flight-only purchases is through credit or debit card providers or travel insurance policies.

Cobalt’s failure comes after Danish budget carrier Primera Air ceased trading earlier this month.

Aviation consultant John Strickland said all airlines are facing “dramatically increased costs” due to rising fuel prices.

He told the Press Association: “For an airline like Cobalt that’s especially challenging ahead of the weaker winter season.

“The Cyprus market is now well served by the leading low cost carriers who are much better placed to withstand these pressures and to price aggressively.

“Ryanair has aircraft based in Cyprus, making life very tough for a small player like Cobalt.”

Romanian airline Blue Air is offering “rescue fares” between from Larnaca and Luton for Cobalt Customers who had planned a flight between October and March.

Noting that a one-way flight is set to start at 99 euros (£87), a message on Blue Air’s website stated: “Passengers in possession of a cancelled Cobalt flight reservation can book a new flight by calling the Blue Air Call Centre in Cyprus or UK.

“In order to benefit (from) these fares, please bring your original Cobalt reservation when you travel.

“The rescue fare is subject to seat availability, so book quickly.”