Freddie Stier, commercial manager – Cyprus and Greece at British Airways talks exclusively to Cyprus Traveller and tells us how the iconic airline’s long history with the island makes for an incredibly bright future ahead.
CT: At present what flights are British Airways operating to and from Cyprus?
Freddie: British Airways fly’s from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Larnaka and from Gatwick to Pafos. Only operating in summer, the Gatwick to Pafos route is seasonal. Last year’s summer frequency was five flights per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday). The Heathrow to Larnaka route operates all-year-round with one flight per day in the winter, and 13 flights per week in the summer.
CT: How successful has British Airways’ flights to Cyprus been thus far?
Freddie: For more than 90 years, British Airways has been successfully operating flights to Cyprus with great benefit to both the airline and the local market. The first flight to operate to Cyprus was to Nicosia on October 6, 1947 the route at this time had many stops going from London – Marseilles – Rome – Athens – Nicosia, the Athens/Nicosia sector was operated by British European Airways (BEA) a predecessor company before British Airways was formed after BEA’s merger with British Overseas Airways Corporation in 1946 under charter to Cyprus Airways.
CT: When is the busiest period for your flights to Cyprus? Are your passengers mixed between business and leisure travel?
Freddie: Summer is always the busiest period. On both routes, the majority of customers are of British nationality, so it’s natural that the peak is in the summer when most customers are on vacation. Many customers on the route are visiting friends and relatives and regularly take the trip. Our flights all have a business class service which is enjoyed by some business travellers but also chosen as the cabin of choice by many of a leisure customers who want that extra treat for their holiday, the lounge access allows the holiday to start a bit earlier.
CT: Why you believe Cyprus is a great destination for British travellers to visit?
Freddie: Due to British Airways’ long history and connection with Cyprus, the country has been extremely popular with UK customers. Popularity started to peak from the early 1990s due to the start of flights to Larnaka. As a Mediterranean island Cyprus offers good weather, great beaches, fantastic resorts, delicious food and very hospitable and warm people.
CT: Are there any upcoming developments that the Cyprus travel industry can expect from British Airways?
Freddie: We frequently review our flight network, flight frequency and schedule to ensure that we are offering the best service to our customers. One of our most important developments is the refresh of our OnBusiness loyalty programme, aimed at small and media businesses. The programme brings together the British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines business programme allowing customers to collect and spend on all three under one scheme. In response to customer feedback, we have introduced immediate discounts on selected flights of at least five per cent off; a three tier ranking system to boost earning power (this relates to the amount customers spend on travel each year); handpicked offers and bonuses for members and a new easy to use online account management tool.
The new On Business has been made more flexible so members who want immediate savings can choose an upfront discount off flights if that works better for their company than collecting points. As part of the changes, OnBusiness has launched a brand new website, which will make it even easier for members to maximise their earning potential and spend their points effectively. It will also give access to custom reporting, as well as a clear view of who is earning where and when to help make further savings.
We are also nearing the end of a cabin refresh of 95 short-haul aircraft. The elegant new cabins take inspiration from the flagship A380 and 787 aircraft and have been fitted with slimmer seats, clever design to maximise personal space and refreshed cabin interiors. All British Airways A320s and A321s have been completed, and the remaining A319s will be completed in by the end of the year. This is a significant investment in the short-haul product and will make travel even more comfortable for those travelling to Cyprus.