JUSTICE Minister Ionas Nicolaou was on Friday called to resolve the serious problems of undermanned work stations at Paphos airport that are giving Cyprus a bad name and troubling thousands of passengers, mainly tourists.
In an urgent letter, the Coordinating Committee of Parties and Organisations (SEKO) chaired by Paphos mayor Phedonas Phedonos appealed to the minister that passport control at the immigration checks need to be staffed with more people as hundreds of tourists are stuck in long queues, some for at least three hours.
The problem is far worse on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays when most of the flights arrive and depart and in several instances passengers are “trapped” in their aircraft because the airport itself was in chaos, it said.
According to SEKO, some overseas tour operators have issued warnings that if the problem isn’t resolved then they’ll stop working with Paphos.
It added passport control needed to be further staffed, but scanning and other equipment also needed to be upgraded to speed up the process and avoid the queues which also delayed passengers from picking up their luggage.
The result of all these problems is that Cyprus gets a bad reputation as a tourist destination, as does Paphos, SEKO said, calling on the minister to realise the urgency of the situation in light of the summer season and take all necessary actions to resolve the problem.
However, the police responded, the problems faced at Paphos airport arise from its infrastructure, not shortcomings in security.
“The problem relates mainly to issues of the airport’s infrastructure, which is designed to serve limited numbers of passengers, whereas on days of increased passenger activity, it serves passenger numbers that are multiple times its capacity,” a police statement said.
This problem, it added, is not the remit of the police, and it has been raised on many occasions with the relevant authorities.
“As the police, we have taken all appropriate measures to improve passenger service, but without jeopardising matters of security,” the statement added.
“We have allocated additional staff to the airport, and implemented flexible hours to respond to increased passenger flows.”