We not too long ago flew financial 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 in the UK, in addition to Dublin, Copenhagen, Paris, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Zurich, Geneva, Madrid and Moscow. They additionally lined Athens, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, Chania and Heraklion in Greece, and in the Middle East flew to Beirut, Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.

You might be forgiven in case you’d not beforehand heard of the airline – it was most likely primarily identified by Cypriots and folks working in the business, and maybe by some folks residing in the above areas. That mentioned, with its six plane it had already accomplished greater than 12,000 flights and served over 1,000,000 passengers in just a little over 2 years since its inception.

I used to be engaged on an project for the airline, documenting their providing for the functions of a assessment on A Luxury Travel Blog. 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 per week later. There have been 5 of us travelling collectively on board this Airbus A320 – though I used to be additionally working, we have 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 ‘business as usual’.

On board, the seats have been comfy. The in-flight journal was dated August 2018 and just a little bit worse for put on in consequence, with options on Halkidiki, idyllic destations close to Athens, Cyprus’ Blue Flag seashores and ‘Jerusalem – Holy City’, in addition to a tradition part and a variety of interviews.

Take-off was on time and every little thing going to plan. The solely minor irritation was that it was fairly scorching on board and the air con didn’t appear to be working too effectively.

There have been no screens in the headrests however one relatively good function 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 units – 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 hook up with a Lenovo laptop computer and an iPhone.

There are apparently three Bluebox Wow containers 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 seemed to be going locations. In addition to producing belief with its passengers, the airline was progressively beginning to construct relationships with different airways, most notably with Etihad Airways, serving to to widen passenger attain and encourage extra guests from the Middle East and past to Cyprus. Other comparable partnerships have been anticipated to be introduced quickly, laying the foundations for additional growth.

But, while we have been mid-flight, information broke of the airline’s collapse. Chinese funding had been withdrawn and the service had failed to achieve a take care of a possible European investor. Officially, 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 folks have been already ‘in the know’ some hours earlier than this official declaration.

This was clearly a tragic day for all workers of the airline, a lot of which I believe had additionally been affected by the chapter of Cyprus Airways as not too long ago as 2015.

It appears stunning that Cyprus is unable to maintain its personal airline provided that tourism is the main driver to the island’s financial system. With its virtually year-round heat temperatures, it’s a extra dependable vacation spot for Winter solar than many different island choices inside the Mediterranean, to not point out the lovely and numerous shoreline that has turn out to be world-renowned for its high quality, constantly receiving awards, accolades and prime rankings.

Let’s hope the workers discover new work quickly however, for the the rest of this text, I’d prefer to concentrate on our private expertise of this example and hopefully a few of this can be helpful to others going through the same destiny both now or in the future.

How we discovered

You would assume that we might have heard an announcement when we landed, both when nonetheless on board the aircraft or as soon as inside the airport. Or that fellow passengers may need been chatting about their respective predicaments while ready for his or her baggage at the baggage carousel. Or that in some unspecified time in the future an e mail may need landed in my inbox. But there was nothing like this. I genuinely don’t assume any passengers knew and myself and my household have been equally oblivious.

The subsequent morning, when the headlines hit in earnest, we have been staying at our villa on the outskirts of Protaras (extra on that in a later weblog publish), not watching TV, not following the information and never spending our time on social media, however as a substitute having fun with some high quality household time away. I checked my emails sometimes however there was no notification.

Mid-way by our time away, we have been because of transfer to a different villa nearer the centre of Protaras and I had emailed Athina from Imagine Villa Rentals about the preparations for the switch. She had been very useful with all 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 have been vacating would should be cleaned since new friends have been arriving that day, as would the one we have been transferring into because it too was solely being vacated that morning, so it could simply want just a little endurance on our half. This was not an issue and we took the alternative to go and have a relaxed lunch in Protaras. Athina additionally made a fleeting reference to “the problems with Cobalt” in the dialog. I requested what she meant and she or he advised me of the airline’s demise. This was the first we had heard of it.

By now it was the afternoon of 19th October so virtually 48 hours since information of the chapter broke. It was half time period week so flights have been already largely full and we out of the blue had no technique of getting house. Our deliberate return with Cobalt was going to be on the morning of 24th October, per 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

Of course, as quickly as I completed the cellphone name, I went and advised the remainder of the household the information. We have been all considerably shocked as you may 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 have a look at options to get house. By now there have been numerous information articles to assist passengers affected, however time was not in our favour. People in the same 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 have been getting some searches return outcomes with no availability till April! (when flights can be resuming for subsequent season)

In addition to frantically discovering out what we may, I messaged a variety of folks. Firstly, Paul Simmons, the Chief Commercial Office at Cobalt, who I had corresponded with previous to working for the airline, to precise my sympathies and ask for his recommendation. He responded in a short time, suggesting two Cypriot corporations to contact to be able to get “a one-way ticket for repatriation whose cost will be covered by the state”. We tried to contact each of those however didn’t have a lot luck – the first mentioned they might get again to us “today 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 facet); the second we couldn’t get by to so I despatched an e mail (they bought 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 automotive, after all).

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 numerous references to the Cypriot authorities serving to with the prices of repatriation, I even added Georgios Lakkotrypis, the Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry & Tourism at the Government 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 obtained a reply.

Meanwhile, my mom discovered a quantity for easyjet that was included in an article about Cobalt in the UK press, so we tried that. They couldn’t accommodate us all on 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 relatively than Larnaca, however not less than all going to Manchester, ableit touchdown in the early hours of the morning, at a rescue fare charge of simply £80 per ticket which appeared like a whole lot of goodwill on their half.

We made the resolution 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 a variety of causes, and the remainder of us following 24 hours in a while the aircraft that would accommodate 4 of us. This offered us with a variety of different logistical hurdles – all of us wanted to get to Paphos and, since we didn’t have a rent automotive, we determined the most suitable choice was to go in a single taxi and the 4 of us that have been staying on to remain the evening in a resort. It was a 2-hour automotive journey so this appeared like the most suitable choice relatively 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 house (so we may use the automotive for the 4 of us when we landed), and so on. and so on. 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 massive thanks to the Alexander the Great Beach Hotel for accommodating us at quick discover. As you may see, this resort occupies a major location proper on the sea entrance. It’s a cushty, well-equipped resort with a big outside 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 is is a part of the Kanika Hotels & Resorts group that’s well-known for the household inns of Olympic Lagoon Resort Agia Napa & Paphos, The Alexander the Great Beach Hotel Paphos and Elias Beach Hotel in Limassol, with greater than 100 prestigious business awards.

Also, ‘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 automotive or the native bus which drops off proper at the waterpark’s doorstep. There are a great deal of high-thrill rides to get pleasure from right here – the free fall, kamikaze, tornado and lots of extra – in addition to loads for many who don’t wish to partake in something too excessive.

Other highlights embrace household rafting, the lazy river which stretches 400m round the park and the park’s well-known air-filled moist bubble which provides a lot of enjoyable for anybody wishing to aim to achieve 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 at 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 obligation have been pleasant, approachable and attentive. A model new slide is deliberate for 2019 so watch this house…

Once we knew our plans for getting house, we additionally knew we might be choosing our automotive up virtually two days later than initially agreed. This had been organized by Skyparksecure at a price of £64.03 for the week so we bought in contact with them and this was the response:

Dear Paul Johnson,

In response to your Facebook message, we right here at SkyParkSecure.com are a Price Comparison Website and act as a Booking Agent for Car Parking Companies in any respect the main Airports in the UK.

SkyParkSecure.com don’t personal or function the Car Parks and don’t present the Car Parking Services, our Offices are primarily based in Blackpool and we should not have any direct contact with the automobiles.

I’ve contacted Official Manchester Airport Meet & Greet – T1 in your behalf, and suggested them of your new return particulars. They have suggested that they may make sure that your automobile is introduced again to the Meet and Greet space and is prepared in your assortment upon your return.

When you land again into Manchester Airport and have handed by baggage reclaim and customs, you’ll need to observe the departure process in your reserving affirmation, making your option to the Meet and Greet space and amassing your keys from the Meet and Greet Reception.

The automotive park will cost you their every day overstay charge of £25.00 per day for the further days at the automotive park when 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 companies workforce on 0345 4599 250 or by way of e mail.

Kind regards,

[Name removed to protect privacy]Customer Service Team

I’ve to say I felt just a little aggrieved by this. The extra day and a half was going to be not all that far in need of the quantity that we had paid for the total week. In distinction to the airways who have been providing rescue fares at charges a lot decrease than they might 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 have been going through circumstances outdoors of their management. As it turned out, although, when we went to gather the key to our automotive, there was no additional cost made. I don’t know if this was as a result of somebody had overruled the resolution, or if the charge was forgotten or just that no one wished the activity of coping with that paperwork at 2 o’clock in the morning, however fortunately there have been no extra prices in the finish.

The prices

So, what did all of it price to get again house? 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 at the airport = €7.50
Subsistence for my spouse on the flight = £11.95
Night in resort at Manchester Airport (we used my factors however equal price was £160) = £160
Train for my spouse to get close to house = £35
Taxi for my spouse to get from practice station to house = £8
Extra evening in resort in Paphos (2 rooms) – free of charge (I did work for the resort in lieu of fee)
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 = £3.50
Extension to airport parking in Manchester – not charged
Additional day of ‘doggy day care’ for our canine again house = £17
Estimate of recommendations on a few of the above = €50

Total price: £650.45 + €526.75

Or, to place it in a single foreign money, the precise price to us was roughly £1,125 (or €1,260), which I don’t assume is unhealthy contemplating this included 5 flights, resort stays (Three completely different rooms throughout 2 inns), 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 in the resort business, the price would have been considerably larger.

Getting compensated

At current, I’ve but to obtain any type of compensation. As talked about, I reached out to the Cypriot authorities by way of the Tourism Minister having learn that they have been saying they might 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’d 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 relatively hoping this is able to be an easy course of. So far, although, I’ve been lower than impressed. Despite 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:

Dear Mr. Ian Smith,

Thank you in your e mail.

We can affirm if the flight is cancelled by the Airline, you would wish to contact them to hunt reimbursement/compensation.

Alternatively, you my [sic] contact the Tour Operator/Travel Agent.

We hope that is of help to you.

If you may have any additional queries, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards,

[Name removed to protect privacy]Customer Services

I don’t know who Mr. Smith is however am guessing it might be somebody who had written at round the similar time and was going through the same state of affairs to ourselves. (‘Smith wasn’t the actual surname used, by the approach – I’ve simply changed it to guard that particular person’s privateness.) Granted, the journey insurance coverage firm did observe up with one other e mail addressed ‘Dear 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 similar. 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 a substitute speaking about repatriation prices. That was on the 19th October, now virtually two weeks in the past, they usually 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 publish. I’ll additionally come again and replace the publish with particulars of any final result.

In the meantime, in case you have any ideas on this, any tales of your individual to share, or in case you have been additionally affected by Cobalt’s insolvency, please go away a remark beneath. We would love to listen to from you. Thank you!

Disclosure: I used to be working for the now saldy-defunct Cobalt Aero airline, in addition to for Imagine Villa Rentals, which I’m happy to say appears to be going from energy to energy, with over 150 properties in and round the Protaras space. Thanks additionally go to each the Alexander the Great Beach Hotel and the Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark for internet hosting us.

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