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North’s airport grinds to halt, ‘minister’ suggests ‘man-made sabotage’ (Updated)

The entrance to the airport in the north

The north’s ‘transport minister’ Erhan Arikli suggested that “man-made sabotage” may have been the reason Ercan (Tymbou) airport grinding to a halt on Wednesday.

Arikli was among those impacted as he was due to fly out of the airport on Wednesday but found himself marooned in the departure lounge, and rhetorically asked the north’s public broadcaster BRT “was this a technical malfunction of man-made sabotage?”

“We will investigate the matter. I have instructed my team to get to work,” he added.

The airport ground to a halt after an “electrical problem” at the air traffic control tower, before power returned a couple of hours later.

However, authorities advised that passengers may face delays in the coming hours due to the backlog of affected flights.

All air traffic radars, radios, and weather radars at the airport were out of action, meaning that flights cannot land or take off at the airport.

As a result, flights from Ankara, Adana, and Antalya have all been ordered to turn back to their airports of origin, while air traffic controllers attempt to monitor Cypriot air traffic using their mobile phones’ internet.

Alongside Arikli, ‘prime minister’ Unal Ustel also found himself stuck at the airport, as he was due to make a visit to Ankara.

The airport’s air traffic control chief Cem Kapisiz spoke to Yeni Duzen, saying “we are in a crisis right now”.

“The power has gone out and planes cannot land. We cannot provide air traffic service,” he added.

In a separate interview with Kibris Postasi, he said inbound planes from further afield have been diverted to Ankara and Antalya.

The north’s civil aviation department director Mustafa Sofi said that when the power went out at the air traffic control tower, the backup generators did not fire up.

The Cyprus Mail contacted the north’s civil aviation department for further comment.

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