Jim Armitage: How Cypriots lost out on airport fees

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The Independent Online

I hear from Cyprus that the private section of Larnaca airport is rammed full of Learjets, Falcons and Gulfstreams ferrying wealthy Russians on emergency missions to save their loot. The tidy sum in landing fees for the Hermes Airports consortium that owns it could be a much-needed windfall for the islanders. Or maybe not. The government gave French-led Hermes the contract to rebuild and run the airport over rivals including consortia featuring the UK's Barclays Private Equity, RBS and BAA. Victory came despite Hermes offering the lowest percentage of royalties to the Cypriot taxpayer – just 33 per cent compared to the Barclays/RBS team's offer of 49 per cent. But Hermes won by default as talks with other bidders collapsed. Another rough deal for poor old Cyprus.