Cyprus Mail

Ryanair eyes Turkey flights

By Constantinos Psillides

BUDGET carrier Ryanair has plans to use Cyprus as base of operations for flights to Turkey, according to the airline’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs.

He was quoted in a Wednesday article of the Irish Times as saying that the airline will “press ahead with plans to apply to the Cypriot government for an airline operator’s certificate (AOC), which would open up new markets in the region such as Israel, Turkey and possibly parts of the Middle East.”

It is yet unknown whether the company has secured the cooperation of the Turkish authorities, since Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and does not allow overflights for airlines that have a base of operations on the island.

A high ranking official with the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) told the Cyprus Mail that planes flying to the island through Turkish air space are subject to a different approach, based on an “extraordinary procedure” that was deemed necessary to avoid any accidents. The extraordinary procedure regarding planes from Turkish airspace has been in place since 1977, three years after the Turkish invasion.

“We have notified all airlines that they are required to radio in their flight plan and contact ground control in Cyprus immediately upon entering our air space. We regularly sent the airlines reminders, explaining that this is necessary since Turkish flight controllers don’t recognise our authority and refuse to contact us,” said the official, adding that he has no knowledge on how Ryanair aims to tackle this problem.

“Maybe they can come up with an understanding. Other airlines have done so,” he said.

The official told the Cyprus Mail that Ryanair had filed for AOC in October and that the DCA is currently evaluating the request. “There are a lot of factors to be considered. Ability to maintain the airline, safety issues, technical problems and so forth. The process takes about two to three months,” the official explained.

Ryanair was one of two companies – the other being Aegean Airlines – that reportedly had a bid for acquiring Cyprus Airways. The process was never completed, since CY closed down following an EU Competition commission decision last Friday. The EU deemed a €102m state aid package received by the company as illegal, forcing CY to return €65m. Unable to do so, the company was declared unviable and had its flying licence revoked.

Aegean Airlines and low-cost carrier Blue Air are both expanding their operations to fill the gap left by CY. Blue Air announced that it will be setting up a base of operations in Cyprus, while Aegean will be expanding its already established base to accommodate four planes instead of just one at present.

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