PHOTO: Aero Pixels.

LONDON – Cypriot carrier, Cobalt Air, has gone under bankruptcy protection following struggling conditions in both the Cypriot and international market.

Up to 350 jobs are going to be lost. The carrier, which has lasted for a total of two years and four months, will now enter administration proceedings.

In a statement, the carrier noted that all operations were ceasing as of 23:50 local time on October 17, 2018.

The last operating flight into Larnaca was CO327 from Heathrow. 

“Cobalt regrets to announce that it will be canceling all Flights as of 23:50 pm on October 17, 2018, due to the indefinite suspension of Cobalt’s operations,” said the airline.

“As a result, future flights or services provided by Cobalt will be canceled and will no longer operate.”

The airline added that all passengers with outstanding tickets “are instructed not to go to Larnaca Airport or any departure airport tomorrow, 18 October 2018 as no Cobalt flights will operate and no Cobalt staff will be present.”

For refunds, the carrier asks passengers to call directly the credit card provider or travel Aagent.

“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,” ends the statement.

Cobalt: Where it all began

Cobalt Air didn’t have a long track. It was founded in 2015, starting operations in June 2016. The airline was aiming to become the new Cyprus Airways, which went bankrupt in 2015.

Cobalt started operations with a sole Airbus A320 aircraft, which arrived in April 2016, the same month they received their Air Operating Certificate (AOC).

Photo: Anna Zvereva

The first revenue flight took off on the 14th June 2016, between Larnaca and Athens, in Greece. Soon after, five more routes followed to Dublin, Heraklion, London-Stansted, Manchester, and Thessaloniki.

Over the course of 2017 and early 2018, the airline launched further 17 routes to a number of destinations in Europe and Asia.

These included Abu Dhabi, Beirut Chania, Copenhagen, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Heraklion, Larnaca, London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick, Madrid-Barajas, Manchester, Moscow-Sheremetyevo, Mykonos, Paphos, Cyprus, Tel Aviv, Thessaloniki, and Zurich.

Photo: Anna Zvereva

Cobalt did also fly to Birmingham and Brussels at one point, but these routes were both axed from their network.

The airline’s fleet also grew from a sole A320 to four A320s and two A319s in the span of a year and a half.

Cobalt Air had plans to add two Airbus A330-200s to its fleet, so it could start long-haul flights to China, South Africa, and the US.

The deal was to be finalized at the end of 2017, for them to start flights at the end of 2018, however, nothing ever materialized.

Cobalt’s last flight was C0327 between London-Heathrow and Larnaca. The flight departed Heathrow at 18:00 GMT landing into Larnaca four hours later. It was operated by Airbus A320-232 (5B-DCR • MSN 0928).

More Damage for Etihad

Although this is a sting for Cobalt Air, it is going to be yet another wound for ill-fated Etihad Airways, who signed interline agreements with the Cypriot airline on services between Larnaca and Abu Dhabi.

While this is not a direct investment to the airline—as it was with failed Air Berlin and Alitalia—it was an investment into the city of Larnaca, of which Etihad pulled out back in 2014.

Services launched in February 2018, with such agreements being able to link Larnaca with up to 100 destinations.

The Cypriot Market

Although Cyprus Airways has re-surfaced in recent times, the national carrier that was launched in 1947 and ceased in 2015. Cobalt will now join that element of demise in the Cypriot market.

Around about the same time that Cobalt Air launched, Charlie Airlines Ltd won a tender competition for the right to use the Cyprus Airways trademark for ten years.

The carrier is based at Larnaca, with the mission to “build a strong and reliable airline, offering safe and enjoyable flights to and from Cyprus.

Moreover, Cypriot carrier Tus Airways is also in financial difficulties. The airline had to ground three of its planes due to aircraft components needing repair.

With Cobalt going under, what’s the likelihood that Cyprus Airways and Tus Airways go under?

Looking Towards The Future

Another carrier bites the dust in the European arena, following Primera Air’s recent demise.

This bankruptcy, in particular, shows how volatile this industry actually is—one where only the strongest survive. And in the likes of Primera, Cobalt Air was nowhere near the strength needed to stay afloat.

Photo: Elias Elia.

In this case, all eyes are now on the industry to see which carrier is next to go in the food chain. It seems at the moment, quite literally, the airlines are dropping like flies.

Article co-written by James Field and Daniel Sander