DIKO and EDEK on Monday called for sanctions to be levied on companies and individuals who chose to use Tymbou (Ercan) airport in the north.
“Using the illegal airport of Tymbou not only displaces passenger traffic from the legitimate airports of the Republic of Cyprus, resulting in substantial revenue losses for the state,” said Athos Antoniades of DIKO, “but it also serves to upgrade the pseudo-state while serving Turkey’s divisive intentions.”
The two parties’ reaction followed the release of data collected by international air-travel intelligence firm OAG, according to which Tymbou (Ercan) moved a record 3.5-4 million passengers in 2015, even though it can only offer flights which must touch down in Turkey first, adding to travel time. By comparison, traffic at Larnaca airport was 5.4 million in 2015, while Paphos clocked 2.3 million. In 2016, Tymbou is expected to see an increase in traffic of over 14 per cent.
A proposal by the foreign ministry to implement the European acquis with punitive measures being taken against airlines and passengers using the airport was turned down by ruling DISY and opposition AKEL.
DIKO called on the two parties to reject the argument for preserving what DIKO called the “supposed good climate” in the ongoing negotiations to reach a Cyprus solution. They should realise that “Turkey uses every opportunity to claim the Republic of Cyprus is defunct,” Antoniades said, urging them to agree to legally sanction all those who break the law.
This, he said, would protect the sovereignty of the republic and the Cypriot economy.
Practically parroting DIKO, socialist EDEK urged the government “to take immediate measures against those who use the airport”.
In a statement the party said it was important the CTO explain abroad the illegal status of Tymbou airport and the risks posed to air traffic from its use.
EDEK said it was also necessary to start an information campaign aimed at Cypriots to explain the negative economic and political impact of their use of the “illegal airport”.
The Green party, in a statement issued later on Monday, questioned where responsibility for the increase in passengers using the airport in the north lay.
“It seems that more and more compatriots choose to travel by air from the occupied area due to low fares and taxes. Also many foreign visitors prefer the area due to the competitive hotel prices and services offered,” said the statement.
“This results in the Republic of Cyprus losing revenue, but also creating a situation of indirect recognition of the illegal airport.”
“Cypriot airports are not under government management for measures to be taken, and the company managing the airports has managed to introduce terms in its contract in order to be compensated when traffic increases at Tymbou airport.”
Far right ELAM went even further in their condemnation, suggesting that instead of opening up new crossing points to the north, the existing ones should be shut. As a result, access to Tymbou would be denied.
“As the National People’s Front we ask everyone to understand that we are under occupation and we demand the government finally closes the checkpoints,” a statement said.