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COVID19: Cyprus to draft action plan for rebooting airports

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Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos is to set up an inter-ministerial committee that will prepare an action plan by the end of May to gradually reopen Cyprus airports with coronavirus as the backdrop.

Karousos said the cabinet on Thursday approved a procedure to draft a road map and strategic plan that will gradually lift the ban on commercial flights and re-launch airport operations.

He said discussions have begun at the level of civil aviation in various countries.

“It is important to draw up an action plan that takes into account all the information to gradually lift the ban on flights, so that we will be ready, when epidemiological data allows, to effectively restore connectivity and the operation of airports.”

The inter-ministerial committee will include the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Health and Deputy Minister of Tourism.

A committee to lead the discussions under the permanent secretary of the Transport Minister will also be established with senior civil servants of the ministries of finance, foreign Affairs and tourism and members of the epidemiology group, civil aviation and Hermes Airports.

The ministerial committee is tasked with having an action plan by the end of this month to give a realistic timeline for when airports and flights can operate.

It must also put forward the criteria for selecting low-risk COVID-19 countries for which connectivity will be restored in the first phase and how that will look.

“Connectivity is crucial for our country. As an island, we virtually depend on flight connectivity and we are preparing an action plan that will take into consideration all epidemiological data so we can gradually bring back our connectivity the soonest,” Karousos said.

All commercial flights to Cyprus have been banned since March 21 while anyone allowed to enter the country is quarantined at a government facility for 14 days.

The reopening of airports is scheduled in June as part of the island’s third stage out of lockdown strategy.