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UK government has ‘no plans’ to allow direct flights to the north

Tymbou airport

The UK government has said it has no plans to authorise direct flights between the UK and the north of Cyprus after a petition was launched on the parliament website calling for such a move and arguing the EU’s embargo should be lifted given Brexit.

The petition filed on the UK parliament’s website has so far around 12,660 signatures. According to the procedure, if 100,000 signatures are collected, the online petition will be considered for debate in parliament.

The creator of the petition, calling for the authorisation of direct flights from the United Kingdom to the north of Cyprus, argues that the UK has around 300,000 residents of Turkish Cypriot heritage.

“Direct flights should create more free flow travel and ease access for the disabled and vulnerable. In return offer British citizens their free choice of travel,” the petition said.

It added that the EU’s 1994 embargo should now be lifted. “If we have completed Brexit, we would like to see the UK authorise a direct flight from the UK to Northern Cyprus without the EU’s interference”. It added that direct flights should boost tourism as this direct flight has never been in effect.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, however, said in response that the UK government has no plans to authorise direct flights between the UK and the north of Cyprus.

“In accordance with the rest of the international community, the UK does not recognise the self-declared ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ as an independent state,” it said. It added that the UK government recognises the Republic of Cyprus as the sovereign authority for the island and as a result, it cannot negotiate an air services agreement with the administration in the north of Cyprus.

It also recalls that the UK High Court also ruled in 2009 in the case Kibris Türk Hava Yollari v Secretary of State for Transport that allowing direct flights to Ercan airport in the north of Cyprus would breach the UK’s international legal obligations. “This is because it would fail to respect the Republic of Cyprus’ rights under the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, including to choose which airports to designate as customs airports.” This ruling was endorsed by the Court of Appeal in 2010.

The Republic of Cyprus, it said, has not designated any airport in the northern part of Cyprus with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO); as such, no airports in that part of Cyprus are listed by ICAO as open for international traffic.

“In light of the above, it would be unlawful for the government to authorise direct flights to the northern part of Cyprus,” it said.

The Turkish Cypriot community has been lobbying for years to get direct flight to the north from the UK. Some two years ago, British Conservative MP Iain Duncan submitted a motion to the British parliament to collect signatures for direct flights to the north.

The British MP said he supported the desire of his Turkish Cypriot constituents for direct flights to the north of the island.

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