We lately flew economic system with Cobalt Aero from Manchester (UK) to Larnaca (Cyprus). Cobalt had routes connecting Cyprus with quite a few European locations together with London and Manchester within the UK, in addition to Dublin, Copenhagen, Paris, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Zurich, Geneva, Madrid and Moscow. Additionally they coated Athens, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, Chania and Heraklion in Greece, and within the Center East flew to Beirut, Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.
You may be forgiven for those who’d not beforehand heard of the airline – it was most likely primarily identified by Cypriots and folks working within the business, and maybe by some individuals residing within the above places. That mentioned, with its six plane it had already accomplished greater than 12,000 flights and served over 1,000,000 passengers in a bit over 2 years since its inception.
I used to be engaged on an task for the airline, documenting their providing for the needs of a evaluate on A Luxurious Journey Weblog. We flew from Terminal 1 at Manchester the place check-in was a fairly fast and largely uneventful course of.
Our flight was on 17th October 2018, departing Manchester at 15.30 and touchdown at Larnaca at 22.15, with our return scheduled for every week later. There have been 5 of us travelling collectively on board this Airbus A320 – though I used to be additionally working, we had been additionally having fun with a multi-generational getaway, so I used to be travelling with my spouse and two sons, in addition to my mom.
It was a typical gray day in Manchester so very a lot ‘enterprise as common’.
On board, the seats had been snug. The in-flight journal was dated August 2018 and a bit bit worse for put on consequently, with options on Halkidiki, idyllic destations close to Athens, Cyprus’ Blue Flag seashores and ‘Jerusalem – Holy Metropolis’, in addition to a tradition part and quite a lot of interviews.
Take-off was on time and the whole lot going to plan. The one minor irritation was that it was fairly sizzling on board and the air con didn’t appear to be working too properly.
There have been no screens within the headrests however one fairly good characteristic on board was the Bluebox moveable wi-fi IFE platform referred to as Bluebox WOW. This meant that wi-fi media content material might be streamed to passengers’ personal gadgets – to telephones, laptops and even Kindles. Between us we managed to get this to work on an iPad and a OnePlus smartphone, however struggled with getting it to connect with a Lenovo laptop computer and an iPhone.
There are apparently three Bluebox Wow bins per plane, conveniently secured in overhead lockers, however maybe there’s solely a lot ‘load’ every one can take.
On the face of it, this was an airline that appeared to be going locations. Along with producing belief with its passengers, the airline was steadily beginning to construct relationships with different airways, most notably with Etihad Airways, serving to to widen passenger attain and encourage extra guests from the Center East and past to Cyprus. Different comparable partnerships had been anticipated to be introduced quickly, laying the foundations for additional growth.
However, while we had been mid-flight, information broke of the airline’s collapse. Chinese language funding had been withdrawn and the service had failed to succeed in a take care of a possible European investor. Formally, the airline’s chapter was declared simply over an hour after we touched down, when the final business flight, from Heathrow to Larnaca landed at 23:50, as I perceive is customary in these conditions, but it surely appears individuals had been already ‘within the know’ some hours earlier than this official declaration.
This was clearly a tragic day for all workers of the airline, lots of which I believe had additionally been affected by the chapter of Cyprus Airways as lately as 2015.
It appears shocking that Cyprus is unable to maintain its personal airline provided that tourism is the key driver to the island’s economic system. With its nearly year-round heat temperatures, it’s a extra dependable vacation spot for Winter solar than many different island choices throughout the Mediterranean, to not point out the attractive and various shoreline that has develop into world-renowned for its high quality, persistently receiving awards, accolades and prime rankings.
Let’s hope the workers discover new work quickly however, for the rest of this text, I’d wish to concentrate on our private expertise of this case and hopefully a few of this can be helpful to others dealing with an identical destiny both now or sooner or later.
How we came upon
You’d suppose that we might have heard an announcement after we landed, both when nonetheless on board the airplane or as soon as contained in the airport. Or that fellow passengers may need been chatting about their respective predicaments while ready for his or her baggage on the baggage carousel. Or that in some unspecified time in the future an e mail may need landed in my inbox. However there was nothing like this. I genuinely don’t suppose any passengers knew and myself and my household had been equally oblivious.
The subsequent morning, when the headlines hit in earnest, we had been staying at our villa on the outskirts of Protaras (extra on that in a later weblog submit), not watching TV, not following the information and never spending our time on social media, however as an alternative having fun with some high quality household time away. I checked my emails often however there was no notification.
Mid-way by means of our time away, we had been resulting from transfer to a different villa nearer the centre of Protaras and I had emailed Athina from Think about Villa Leases in regards to the preparations for the switch. She had been very useful with all of the logistics previous to travelling and, from earlier correspondence, knew that I used to be additionally working for Cobalt. She referred to as me to clarify that the villa we had been vacating would should be cleaned since new friends had been arriving that day, as would the one we had been shifting into because it too was solely being vacated that morning, so it will simply want a bit persistence on our half. This was not an issue and we took the chance to go and have a relaxed lunch in Protaras. Athina additionally made a fleeting reference to “the issues with Cobalt” within the dialog. I requested what she meant and she or he informed me of the airline’s demise. This was the primary we had heard of it.
By now it was the afternoon of 19th October so nearly 48 hours since information of the chapter broke. It was half time period week so flights had been already largely full and we immediately had no technique of getting dwelling. Our deliberate return with Cobalt was going to be on the morning of 24th October, every week after our departure, flying Larnaca to Manchester. Had it not been for this passing point out in our phone dialog, we might not have found there was an issue till we’d returned to the airport, solely to seek out there was no flight.
What we did
In fact, as quickly as I completed the cellphone name, I went and informed the remainder of the household the information. We had been all considerably shocked as you’ll be able to think about. We instantly went on-line, first to confirm the announcement and, as soon as that was in a short time confirmed, began to take a look at options to get dwelling. By now there have been varied information articles to assist passengers affected, however time was not in our favour. Individuals in an identical state of affairs to ourselves would have already began making new journey preparations on flights that already had very restricted availability. As we began to go looking completely different airline web sites, we had been getting some searches return outcomes with no availability till April! (when flights could be resuming for subsequent season)
Along with frantically discovering out what we may, I messaged quite a lot of individuals. Firstly, Paul Simmons, the Chief Industrial Workplace at Cobalt, who I had corresponded with previous to working for the airline, to specific my sympathies and ask for his recommendation. He responded in a short time, suggesting two Cypriot firms to contact with the intention to get “a one-way ticket for repatriation whose value will likely be coated by the state”. We tried to contact each of those however didn’t have a lot luck – the primary mentioned they’d get again to us “immediately or tomorrow” and I didn’t really feel very assured about that (they by no means did come again to me that day and I didn’t really feel we had time on our aspect); the second we couldn’t get by means of to so I despatched an e mail (they received again to us a while later, suggesting flights that took us again to Birmingham a day later than deliberate, which isn’t the place we had left our automobile, in fact).
I additionally messaged my journey insurance coverage firm, Columbus Direct – extra on their response shortly – with whom I had an annual household journey insurance coverage coverage. And, having learn varied references to the Cypriot authorities serving to with the prices of repatriation, I even added Georgios Lakkotrypis, the Minister of Vitality, Commerce, Business & Tourism on the Authorities of Cyprus to my Linkedin, together with a observe with my connection request that defined my state of affairs and requested for his recommendation. He accepted the request, and would have seen this message when doing so, however I haven’t but acquired a reply.
In the meantime, my mom discovered a quantity for easyjet that was included in an article about Cobalt within the UK press, so we tried that. They couldn’t accommodate us all one flight, however they’d one seat for the 23rd, one seat for the 24th and 4 seats for the 25th, flying out of Paphos fairly than Larnaca, however no less than all going to Manchester, ableit touchdown within the early hours of the morning, at a rescue fare price of simply £80 per ticket which appeared like lots of goodwill on their half.
We made the choice to return on the flights on the 24th and 25th, with my spouse taking the solo flight as she actually wanted to get again for quite a lot of causes, and the remainder of us following 24 hours afterward the airplane that would accommodate 4 of us. This introduced us with quite a lot of different logistical hurdles – all of us wanted to get to Paphos and, since we didn’t have a rent automobile, we determined the best choice was to go in a single taxi and the 4 of us that had been staying on to remain the night time in a resort. It was a 2-hour automobile journey so this appeared like the best choice fairly than us every make that journey individually. We additionally wanted to rearrange lodging, taxis to the airport from the resort, a resort for my spouse when she landed in Manchester, transport preparations for her to get dwelling (so we may use the automobile for the 4 of us after we landed), and many others. and many others. None of it was insurmountable but it surely did require fairly a bit of additional planning.
So a fast interlude right here to say a really large thanks to the Alexander the Nice Seaside Lodge for accommodating us at quick discover. As you’ll be able to see, this resort occupies a chief location proper on the ocean entrance. It’s a snug, well-equipped resort with a big out of doors pool – and an indoor conservatory pool – and swim-up bar.
The resort could be very household pleasant and has at least 4 on-site eating places – Roxane (buffet), Limanaki (Greek tavern), Seven Orchids (pan Asian), and Garibaldi (Italian). It’s is a part of the Kanika Inns & Resorts group that’s well-known for the household accommodations of Olympic Lagoon Resort Agia Napa & Paphos, The Alexander the Nice Seaside Lodge Paphos and Elias Seaside Lodge in Limassol, with greater than 100 prestigious business awards.
Additionally, ‘heads up’ to the Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark. Going to the waterpark is all the time a prime day trip with our boys so it appeared to make sense to go to this one because it was just a bit over a mile from the resort. We walked there and again but it surely’s is definitely accessible by automobile or the native bus which drops off proper on the waterpark’s doorstep. There are a great deal of high-thrill rides to take pleasure in right here – the free fall, kamikaze, tornado and plenty of extra – in addition to lots for individuals who don’t wish to partake in something too excessive.
Different highlights embrace household rafting, the lazy river which stretches 400m across the park and the park’s well-known air-filled moist bubble which gives numerous enjoyable for anybody wishing to aim to succeed in the summit.
I didn’t take my cellphone or any valuables with me however there are safe lockers on website in addition to free WiFi. It was fairly quiet on the time of our go to as a storm was forecast (it by no means actually lived as much as expectations) however the lifeguards on responsibility had been pleasant, approachable and attentive. A model new slide is deliberate for 2019 so watch this house…
As soon as we knew our plans for getting dwelling, we additionally knew we’d be choosing our automobile up nearly two days later than initially agreed. This had been organized by means of Skyparksecure at a value of £64.03 for the week so we received in contact with them and this was the response:
Expensive Paul Johnson,
In response to your Fb message, we right here at SkyParkSecure.com are a Value Comparability Web site and act as a Reserving Agent for Automobile Parking Corporations in any respect the key Airports within the UK.
SkyParkSecure.com don’t personal or function the Automobile Parks and don’t present the Automobile Parking Companies, our Places of work are based mostly in Blackpool and we shouldn’t have any direct contact with the autos.
I’ve contacted Official Manchester Airport Meet & Greet – T1 in your behalf, and suggested them of your new return particulars. They’ve suggested that they’ll be certain that your automobile is introduced again to the Meet and Greet space and is prepared on your assortment upon your return.
If you land again into Manchester Airport and have handed by means of baggage reclaim and customs, you will want to observe the departure process in your reserving affirmation, making your method to the Meet and Greet space and accumulating your keys from the Meet and Greet Reception.
The automobile park will cost you their every day overstay price of £25.00 per day for the additional days on the automobile park if you accumulate your keys from the Meet and Greet reception.
If SkyParkSecure.com are capable of be of any additional help, please don’t hesitate to contact our buyer providers staff on 0345 4599 250 or through e mail.
[Name removed to protect privacy]
Buyer Service Crew
I’ve to say I felt a bit aggrieved by this. The extra day and a half was going to be not all that far wanting the quantity that we had paid for your complete week. In distinction to the airways who had been providing rescue fares at charges a lot decrease than they’d usually cost, it appeared prefer it was a unique mindset when it got here to airport parking – this was a chance to profiteer from the misfortune of passengers who had been dealing with circumstances outdoors of their management. Because it turned out, although, after we went to gather the important thing to our automobile, there was no additional cost made. I don’t know if this was as a result of somebody had overruled the choice, or if the price was forgotten or just that no one needed the duty of coping with that paperwork at 2 o’clock within the morning, however fortunately there have been no extra prices ultimately.
So, what did all of it value to get again dwelling? Right here’s a abstract of the extra prices incurred:
Estimate on cellphone calls associated to repatriation = £15
5 rescue flights with easyjet @ £80 every = £400
Taxi from Protaras to Paphos = €200
Taxi for my spouse to get to the airport = €28
Subsistence for my spouse on the airport = €7.50
Subsistence for my spouse on the flight = £11.95
Evening in resort at Manchester Airport (we used my factors however equal value was £160) = £160
Practice for my spouse to get close to dwelling = £35
Taxi for my spouse to get from practice station to dwelling = £eight
Further night time in resort in Paphos (2 rooms) – free of charge (I did work for the resort in lieu of cost)
Subsistence for the 4 of us remaining in Paphos for an additional day and a half = €213.25
Taxi to airport for the remainder of us = €28
In flight subsistence = £three.50
Extension to airport parking in Manchester – not charged
Further day of ‘doggy day care’ for our canine again dwelling = £17
Estimate of recommendations on among the above = €50
Whole value: £650.45 + €526.75
Or, to place it in a single forex, the precise value to us was roughly £1,125 (or €1,260), which I don’t suppose is dangerous contemplating this included 5 flights, resort stays (three completely different rooms throughout 2 accommodations), a number of types of transport and an extension to our keep that led to different extra prices. Had it not been for one or two business contacts, most notably within the resort business, the price would have been considerably better.
At current, I’ve but to obtain any type of compensation. As talked about, I reached out to the Cypriot authorities through the Tourism Minister having learn that they had been saying they’d bear the prices of repatriation. I don’t know if that is assured and know this isn’t the official channel however was curious to see if I’d get a response. As but, I haven’t, however I would have a look at exploring this avenue additional.
I’m actually anticipating my journey insurance coverage firm to bear the price. I’ve by no means beforehand needed to make a declare however was fairly hoping this is able to be an easy course of. Thus far, although, I’ve been lower than impressed. Regardless of having clearly defined our circumstances in an e mail and regardless of a transparent assertion on repatriation of their coverage wording, they replied with this:
Expensive Mr. Ian Smith,
Thanks on your e mail.
We are able to affirm if the flight is cancelled by the Airline, you would want to contact them to hunt reimbursement/compensation.
Alternatively, you my [sic] contact the Tour Operator/Journey Agent.
We hope that is of help to you.
When you have any additional queries, don’t hesitate to contact us.
[Name removed to protect privacy]
I don’t know who Mr. Smith is however am guessing it might be somebody who had written at across the similar time and was dealing with an identical state of affairs to ourselves. (‘Smith wasn’t the actual surname used, by the way in which – I’ve simply changed it to guard that individual’s privateness.) Granted, the journey insurance coverage firm did observe up with one other e mail addressed ‘Expensive Dr. Paul Johnson’ however by this time I had already beginning composing my reply to them and the content material of the message was in any other case an identical. I re-iterated my unique enquiry, explaining that I used to be not speaking about reimbursement for flights paid for, however that I used to be as an alternative speaking about repatriation prices. That was on the 19th October, now nearly two weeks in the past, and so they haven’t responded.
I don’t intend to depart it at this, although! I’ll be chasing the journey insurance coverage firm and can refer them to this weblog submit. I’ll additionally come again and replace the submit with particulars of any end result.
Within the meantime, when you’ve got any ideas on this, any tales of your personal to share, or for those who had been additionally affected by Cobalt’s insolvency, please depart a remark beneath. We’d love to listen to from you. Thanks!
Disclosure: I used to be working for the now saldy-defunct Cobalt Aero airline, in addition to for Think about Villa Leases, which I’m happy to say appears to be going from power to power, with over 150 properties in and across the Protaras space. Thanks additionally go to each the Alexander the Nice Seaside Lodge and the Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark for internet hosting us.