Cyprus Mail

Grand plans for enhancing Cyprus’ regional flight operations

The Flight Safety Foundation Mediterranean (FSF-MED) is in the process of promoting three initiatives to enhance and expand Cyprus’ position in the region.

The organisation’s Executive Director Christos Petrou, in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency published on Sunday said the recent FSF-MED meeting in Cyprus, attended by former Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organisation ICAO Raymond Benjamin decided to host a joint seminar in early May next year with the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, which was set up by the Israeli civil aviation association to promote air transport and space issues.

The seminar will focus on safety of offshore operations, and search and rescue. Companies operating in the exclusive economic zones of both Cyprus and Israel were backing the initiative, Petrou said.

He said it was extremely important to secure the safety of helicopters flying to and from hydrocarbons platforms in the region, adding that when all exploration platforms in the two countries’s respective exclusive economic zones, were fully operational, there would be some 80 helicopter flights daily.

“Some coordination is necessary since the airs pace above some of the Israeli platforms belongs to the Nicosia Flight Information Region,” he said.
The second initiative the FSF-MED is pushing for aims at establishing an “Association of European Aviation Training and Education Organisations-EATEO), which would be based in Cyprus.

In this respect, Petrou said that last Wednesday the Association`s Founding Committee met and approved its Charter. It is expected that once the Association is registered as a legal entity in Cyprus, it could have all European universities and training centres involved in aviation as members.

Referring to the third initiative, Petrou said that it had to do with the development of the general aviation airport and aerosport centre, a small airport, which would serve aviation fans, for whom flying is a hobby, as well as pilots` training schools.

He said that a draft study on the matter has already been sent to the ministry of transport and now a report was being prepared by the ministry for the attention of the Council of Ministers. If this initiative takes off, Petrou believes that there will be significant benefits for the tourist industry in Cyprus.

“The air transport sector is for all countries, and especially for island states like Cyprus, an extremely powerful instrument of economic, social and political development,” he said, adding that the average contribution of the sector to the global GDP was 4.3%, employing more than 70 million people, and having a turnover of several trillion dollars.

In Cyprus, he said the average percentage is far lower and as such prospects for development were great.

Petrou referred also to the EU Commission 2015 report on Turkey`s accession course, which notes in the chapter on air transport that the absence of communication between the control towers of Turkey and Cyprus continued to put at serious risk flight safety in the Nicosia FIR. It also points out that an operational solution is urgently needed in this respect.

“Unfortunately, Turkey maintains a totally negative approach on this matter, dismissing international law and order and ignoring the safety of thousands of flights carrying millions of people,” Petrou said. (CNA)

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