The Nicosia Flight Information Region (FIR), the easternmost of Europe, is of strategic importance, providing services for 400,000 flights carrying over 60 million persons per year, President Nicos Anastasiades has said.
He was speaking at an event marking the tenth anniversary of the Mediterranean Air Safety Foundation in Cyprus on Wednesday evening.
“Almost all flights from Israel and Lebanon to Europe use our FIR, and all the overflights of Turkish airlines to Africa fly through it, contacting the legitimate Cyprus control centre and paying fees to the government,” he said.
“The two state-of-the-art airports of our country operate flights from and to 120 destinations, from 70 airlines based in 40 different countries, with about 11 million passengers travelling in 2018.”
The government is working on improving the civil aviation sector, acknowledging its importance, he added.
Anastasiades mentioned an imminent change to the creation of an independent aviation department, which is how civil aviation works in almost all other European countries.
This is linked to the installation of a new air traffic control system and other technical improvements already approved by the cabinet, which will lead to more flexibility and efficiency he said.
But the president went on to stress the difficulties caused by Ankara control centre’s refusal to communicate with the Nicosia control centre, disregarding international and European regulations.
In addition, the Tymbou (Ercan) control centre intervenes with FIR flights and the Turkish air force violates the Cyprus airspace he said.