Cyprus Mail

Ercan airport continues to hamper flight safety, says minister

Tymbou (Ercan) airport in the north

THE operation of the illegal Ercan airport in the north and the activities of the so-called control tower are preventing the development of aviation and flight safety in Cyprus, Transport Minister Marios Demetriades told conference delegates on Friday.

In his address to the international conference on the impact of drones on aviation safety and security organised by the Flight Safety Foundation-Mediterranean (FSF-MED) in Larnaca, Demetriades said that the topic was “timely and interesting”.

The conference was supported by the government and of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Demetriades, whose speech was read by his ministry’s permanent secretary, said that such events “contribute effectively to the development of regional cooperation”.

“This is very important since it is generally considered that cooperation is the key to the future development of aviation, as air travel is inherently a transnational and interregional activity,” he said. “Such cooperation is of even greater importance given that we live in a highly volatile and politically unstable region”.

It is for this reason, the minister said, that the Cypriot government attaches great importance to the development of good relations with all its neighbours. He said that Cyprus, as the only country in the region that is a European Union and Eurocontrol member, could play a leading role in strengthening cooperation and facilitating the adoption of common standards.

“The development of civil aviation and safety in Cyprus is prevented by the operation of the illegal airport in the occupied areas and by the interventions of the so called Ercan control tower in the provision of air control traffic services in the Nicosia FIR, which has been condemned by the ICAO,” Demetriades said.

This anomaly, he said, combined with the frequent interference of unauthorised and uncoordinated military flights from Turkey creates risks for aviation that have been recognised by the EU and ICAO.

“Specific efforts to limit those risks have not been resolved due to the unreasonable demands of Turkey, while as regards our side we will continue working to enhance security, always under international law and the provisions of the ICAO Convention,” Demetriades said.

Demetriades, briefing the House transport committee later in the day, said he was satisfied that discussion began in parliament on the two bills concerning the transfer of aeronautical services from the civil aviation department to a state-owned private company.

The sooner the bills are passed into laws the better for flight safety, he said.

The establishment of this new company aims to resolve the flight delay problems experienced in the Republic’s air space. This reform will benefit the country, Demetriades said.

The minister had said last month that Cyprus has the highest rate of delays in the EU which from the peak of five minutes in April 2014 have been reduced to below one minute in 2016 due to various measures and incentives implemented, but this is still higher than the EU and Eurocontrol target of 0.3 minutes.

Demetriades said that the civil aviation department will continue to approve licenses and will be responsible for airports and most of the services it now provides.

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