Cyprus needs airline plan to thwart Turkey

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Cyprus should have a consistent national airline strategy to “make the most of foreign players,” who condemn Turkey’s illegal actions in Nicosia FIR, according to aviation expert Christos Petrou

The Flight Safety Foundation- Mediterranean (FSF-MED) executive director was commenting on Turkey’s refusal to allow a Cyprus-chartered flight carrying medical supplies from China into its airspace.

“It is the first time as far as I know that Turkish authorities did not allow a foreign country’s aeroplane to use its FIR to land in Cyprus.”

Petrou said this may be part of a new tactic by Turkey in a game of political brinkmanship with Cyprus – a country it has no diplomatic relations with.

All aircraft registered in Cyprus are not allowed to use Turkey’s airspace because it does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, however, this was not the case when it came to aircraft from foreign countries.

The Republic of Cyprus, Petrou said, “has never prevented Turkish airlines from using its FIR.”

After Israel, he said, Turkish airlines are the second-best customer for Cyprus’ FIR, paying a total of €12 mln annually.

Petrou believes the reason for the incident is down to a change in Turkey’s stance, adding that it may be getting tougher due to either tourism considerations, its testy relations with Greece and Cyprus or even because it was aware that the aircraft was transporting medical supplies.

Cypriot authorities have reported Turkey’s action to ICAO and Eurocontrol, but as with other violations of Nicosia FIR by Turkey’s air force, Petrou believes nothing concrete will come out of it.

“What Cyprus should do is to have a consistent national airline strategy in the context of which it could make the most of other players who condemn the Turkish stance since it is not in their interest.“

“This would be more effective than just reporting Turkey to international organisations.”

The flight from China carrying 36 tonnes of medical supplies finally arrived in Cyprus 10 hours late on Wednesday as it was diverted to Moscow before reaching Larnaca. (source CNA)