Limassol shipowner Acheon Akti Navigation has clinched a contract to run the first ferry service between Cyprus and Greece for 22 years.

The company is teaming up with tour operator Top Kinisis to form the joint venture Scandro Holding.

The tender was launched by the Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry in 2021.

The service will use the 1,066-pax ropax Daleela (built 1991), controlled by Arab Ship Management of Jordan.

Acheon Akti currently controls a handysize bulker and five reefers.

The ropax will make 22 return sailings between June and September over the duration of the three-year contract.

The trip from Limassol to Piraeus takes 30 hours. The Daleela can carry 400 passengers, as well as vehicles.

The service will be subsidised by state funds, the ministry said, in accordance with the European Union rules governing a Service of General Economic Interest.

The cash boost will be worth €5.475m ($5.8m) per year.

The deal can be extended for three years.

Another link planned

Cyprus’ shipping deputy minister Vassilios Demetriades said Scandro beat a number of “competitive” offers for the contract.

“We are excited about this link, starting very soon, which has been eagerly anticipated by the local community. It will be hugely advantageous to the region as a whole, providing alternative connectivity to our citizens while promoting maritime tourism between Cyprus and continental Europe, with very low fares,” he added.

The ministry is also considering a link to another neighbouring country.

At the end of 2020, the government of Cyprus promised to spend $18.4m to nudge shipowners into reactivating the disused ferry link.

Enough traffic?

It remains to be seen whether sufficient quantities of traffic can be produced between Greece and Cyprus. The two countries are sister nations and its inhabitants speak the same language.

However, cultural links alone were not enough to sustain a previous ferry service between them. The last operators on the route were Access Ferries and Salamis Lines, both of which discontinued the service in 2000.

The passenger trade was killed off by low-cost airlines, industry watchers told TradeWinds.