Flights from Russia will begin arriving in the north in November following a stop in Antalya, Turkey, it was reported on Friday, two days after initial reports said the flights would be direct from Russia to Ercan (Tymbou) airport.
According to a report in Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak, the flight will be daily from Antalya, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is expected to be onboard the first flight.
On Thursday, Erdogan was quoted by Turkish broadcaster NTV as saying that he discussed the start of direct flights from Russia to the north with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Flights from Russia would provide support for the economy there, given the potential tourism income, Erdogan said.
“If direct flights start from Russia to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, we will of course be pleased,” Erdogan added.
Turkish media reported the Turkish Cypriot transport minister as saying that two Russian airlines were interested in starting flights to the new Ercan airport, which will be opened on November 15, the day the unilateral declaration of independence is celebrated in the north.
Commenting on the matter from New York, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said the flights may travel through Turkey, without making any further comment on the matter.
All flights currently arriving in the north make a stopover in Turkey.
On Wednesday, President Nicos Anastasiades said he would raise the issue of the reported direct flights to the north from Russia during a scheduled meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
However, that meeting was cancelled, but the government had said that the reports were “detached from reality”.
On Friday, director general of the foreign ministry Cornelios Corneliou said that Nicosia continues to monitor information that sees the light of day about direct flights between Russia and the north.
Commenting on Erdogan’s statements, he said “we keep the assurances we received both from Moscow’s foreign ministry and the Russian ambassador in Nicosia”.