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Low-cost airline Cobalt collapses

By Abigail Townsend

Date: Thursday 18 Oct 2018

Low-cost airline Cobalt collapses

(Sharecast News) - Budget airline Cobalt has suspended operations after reportedly failing to reach an agreement with a potential investor.
The Cypriot carrier, which has flown in and out of Cyprus since 2016, has cancelled all flights and told passengers not to go to airports.

It said: "Cobalt regrets to announce that it will be cancelling flights due to indefinite suspension of Cobalt's operations. As a result, future flights or services provided by Cobalt will be cancelled and will no longer operate.

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

"For refunds please contact your credit card provider or travel agent.

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

The airline gave no further details, but reports in Cyprus said that the group had failed to reach a deal with a new investor. The business was formed after flag carrier Cyprus Airlines went bust in 2015, and was understood to be 49% backed by China's Avic Joy Air.

Cobalt's suspension follows the collapse of Demark's Primera Air earlier this month and a profit warning from Flybe on Wednesday that saw shares in the Exeter, England-based airline slump 40%. Last year European operators Monarch, Alitalia and Air Berlin all went to the wall.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, said: "It's a tough time for European short haul air travel and it could be another opportunity for the big players to Hoover up smaller operations or their routes. The necessary consolidation is on its way and it won't be pretty.

"Pressures on the sector are mounting and the rise in oil prices has clearly had an effect; low oil prices have for years kept some zombie operations alive for longer than they probably ought to [be]. Cobalt is a tiny player but the implications for the sector are evident: smaller operations are going to struggle as the sector competes away margins and oil prices raise costs."

The Foreign Office advised British nations due to fly home on Cobalt on Thursday to book another flight and to keep proof of purchase, "as information will be provided on reimbursement by the Republic of Cyprus in due course". It added that those with tickets for flights home in the next seven days week should keep checking the Cyprus Ministry of Transport's website for further information.

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