Cobalt Air

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Cobalt Air
Cobalt Air Logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
CO FCB APOLLO
Founded 27 November 2015 (27 November 2015)[1]
Commenced operations 1 June 2016 (2016-06-01)[1]
Ceased operations 17 October 2018
Hubs Larnaca International Airport
Frequent-flyer program Cobalt Elements[2]
Fleet size 6
Destinations 23
Headquarters Nicosia, Cyprus[1]
Key people Petros Souppouris (CEO)
Employees 350 approx (2017)[3]
Website www.cobalt.aero

Cobalt Air[1] was a Cypriot airline headquartered in Nicosia[1] based out of Larnaca International Airport.

The airline operated its maiden flight on 1 June 2016 from Larnaca to Athens.[4] It was the second Cypriot airline after Tus Airways to be established since the dissolution of flag carrier Cyprus Airways in 2015.[5] From June 2017 until October 2018, it was the second largest airline at Larnaca International Airport with 8.2% of weekly capacity after Aegean Airlines, and was predicted to become the largest airline by summer 2018 following expansion and the subsequent reduction by Aegean in Larnaca.[6] However, Cobalt Air ceased all operations on 17 October 2018 facing financial difficulties.[7]

History

The first Airbus A320 aircraft arrived in April 2016 and the airline was granted an air operator's certificate (AOC) on 18 May 2016 following a test flight between Larnaca and Heraklion. According to chairman Gregory Diacou, Cobalt planned to receive another three aircraft of the same type by the end of June 2016.[8] Following the successful completion of its maiden flight from Larnaca to Athens, Cobalt on 14 June 2016 began selling tickets from Larnaca on the Athens route as well as on 5 other new routes for the airline to Dublin, Heraklion, London–Stansted, Manchester and Thessaloniki.[9]

On 4 March 2017, it was announced by the transport minister of Cyprus that Cobalt would operate the route from Paphos to Athens after Ryanair stopped operating the route in late March.[10] In May 2017, the airline announced that it would add five rows of 'economy comfort seats' to its 6 aircraft, to be sold at an additional fee at the airport, or as business-class seats in a 2x2. A frequent flyer program was to be implemented.[6] In August 2017, the airline announced plans to fit its fleet with onboard Wi-Fi available to passengers, part of a move from the airline’s original low-cost approach to more of a full-service model.[11]

In May 2018, the airline announced it would be using a portable wireless IFE platform called Bluebox Wow to introduce IFE across its fleet.[12][13]

In June 2018, Cobalt signed an agreement with Etihad Airways to allow passengers to check their bags through on connecting flights to destinations on the over 100 routes on the Etihad network.[14]

On 17 October 2018, Cobalt Airways suspended all operations indefinitely due to financial difficulties.[7] The last flight to land was CO327 from London-Heathrow to Larnaca, which arrived at 00:10 local time on 18 October 2018.[15]

On 2 November 2018, it was reported that A Cypriot Administrative Court had temporarily reinstated Cobalt's Air Transport Licence (ATL) after overturning an earlier Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) decision to withdraw it. This was due to a request from Virgin Atlantic, who had leased London Heathrow slots to Cobalt and was in danger of losing them given the cancellation of Cobalt's operating licences. As such, in addition to saving the UK carrier's Heathrow slots, the formal reinstatement of Cobalt's ATL would allow the Cypriot carrier to continue its hunt for a Good Samaritan investor willing to revive its operations.[16][17] On 5 November, the day of the court case, it was reported Virgin had withdrawn the legal bid against the airline. This lead to the suspension of the airline's ATL for a second time.[18]

Destinations

As of February 2018, Cobalt Air flew to 23 destinations in 13 countries, all in Europe, Russia and the Middle East. Prior to the closure of the airline, several network expansions were planned. The airline's previous CEO, Andrew Madar, stated that an aircraft could be based at Paphos International Airport from winter 2017/18, operating flights to Birmingham, Brussels, Dublin and London–Stansted.[19]

In August 2017, the airline announced two new routes from Larnaca to Frankfurt and London–Gatwick. The airline also announced its intention to launch operations to Moscow from Larnaca by the end of the year. It initially intended to launch the service to Moscow in summer 2017, but failed to complete the formalities on time, subsequently the route is planned to launch in late March 2018.[20] The airline also stated its interest in operating to Saint Petersburg in the near future.[21]

In March 2018, it was announced the airline would start a route from Athens to London-Gatwick, its first route to not originate from Cyprus, its home base.[22]

Fleet

Cobalt Air Airbus A319-100
Cobalt Air Airbus A320-200

As of 30 June 2018, the Cobalt fleet consisted of the following aircraft:[23][24]

Cobalt Air fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes
C Y Total
Airbus A319-100 2 144 144[24]
Airbus A320-200 4 12 144 156[24]
Total 6

Fleet development

The airline planned to acquire two Airbus A330-200 aircraft to start long haul operations to China, South Africa and the US by September 2018, with the deal to acquire the aircraft expected to be finalised by August 2017.[6] As of October 2018 however, the airline had yet to secure a deal for wide-body aircraft.

Services

Aircraft cabins

Cobalt Air offered business class on selected routes operated by A320 aircraft, the airline's fleet of A319 did not feature the business class offering. Business class featured 12 large leather seats in a 2 by 2 configuration. Passengers were offered priority boarding, a dedicated check-in desk, spacious seating and an extensive dining menu that could be ordered at a time of customer’s choice. In addition, Business Class passengers had access to a business class lounge.[25] In economy class passengers are offered a Buy-on-board service.

In-flight entertainment

The airline offered in flight entertainment through a portable wireless IFE platform called Bluebox Wow. Bluebox Wow was a portable, lunchbox-sized unit. Each box’s single, swappable and rechargeable battery could deliver up to 15 hours of streamed video content. Cobalt Air had specified three Bluebox Wow units per aircraft, which are secured in the overhead lockers.[12][13]

Frequent flyer program

In September 2018, Cobalt Air launched a passenger recognition programme Cobalt Elements. The recognition card offered benefits including seat upgrades, fare discounts, priority check-in/boarding, increased baggage allowance, a dedicated support line and other incentives to frequent flyer members across the Cobalt network. Members received a Cobalt Elements black card and premium baggage tags. Elements vouchers could be used to upgrade flights. An annual membership included three complimentary upgrade vouchers from economy to business class. Additional upgrade vouchers could be purchased at a discount. Elements members also received a 10% discount on Cobalt’s lowest fares.[26]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Cobalt Aero". cobalt.aero. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Cobalt Elements". cobaltelements.com. Retrieved 2018-09-06.
  3. ^ "COBALT AERO". Linkedin. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  4. ^ "COBALT – the new airline of Cyprus – conquers the skies". cyprus-mail.com. 2016-06-03. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  5. ^ Leonidou, John (2016-03-02). "First Cobalt Air flights in June". Archived from the original on 2016-04-04. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Ford, Johnathan (2017-06-15). "Cobalt, Cyprus' leading airline, prepares to go long-haul". anna.aero. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  7. ^ a b "Cyprus's Cobalt to suspend operations". ch-aviation.com. 17 October 2018.
  8. ^ "COBALT officially Cyprus' new airline". InCyprus. 2016-05-18. Archived from the original on 2016-05-19. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  9. ^ "Cobalt takes to the skies from Cyprus". anna.aero. 2016-07-12. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  10. ^ "Cobalt to fill Ryanair's Paphos-Athens gap". cyprus-mail.com. 4 March 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Cobalt Air To Install Onboard Wi-Fi". aviationweek.com. 14 August 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Cobalt Air adds IFE across A320/A319 fleet, using portable wireless platform". aircraftinteriorsinternational.com. 25 May 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Fleet-wide IFE enhancement aboard expanding Cyprus carrier's Airbus A320/A319 fleet". cobalt.aero. 25 May 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Cobalt Air signs interline agreement with Etihad". buyingbusinesstravel.com. 8 June 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  15. ^ "Major airline COLLAPSES – all flights SUSPENDED from midnight". dailystar.co.uk. 18 October 2018.
  16. ^ "Cypriot court temporarily reinstates Cobalt's ATL". ch-aviation.com. 5 November 2018. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Court injunction suspends decision to revoke Cobalt licences". cyprus-mail.com. 2 November 2018. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Virgin withdraws Cobalt legal bid, ATL suspended again". ch-aviation.com. 5 November 2018. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  19. ^ "INTERVIEW: Cobalt connecting Cyprus with the world". Cyprus Traveller. 7 June 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  20. ^ "Home - Cobalt Aero". cobalt.aero. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  21. ^ "Cypriot Cobalt Air to lauch [sic] flights to Moscow before year-end". www.rusaviainsider.com. 29 August 2017.
  22. ^ "Cypriot carrier Cobalt Air to operate Gatwick-Athens route". travelweekly.co.uk. 19 March 2018.
  23. ^ Cyprus Aircraft Register As At 30 June 2018, pages 5-6
  24. ^ a b c "Fleet". cobalt.aero. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  25. ^ "Business class". cobalt.aero. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  26. ^ "COBALT AIR LAUNCHES COBALT ELEMENTS RECOGNITION CARD". cobalt.aero. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  • Cyprus Aircraft Register As At 30 June 2018, retrieved 29 July 2018 via "Cyprus Aircraft Register". mcw.gov.cy. Nicosia, Cyprus: Republic of Cyprus Department of Civil Aviation. 30 June 2018. Retrieved 29 July 2018.

External links

  • Official website
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