There has been a call for sanctions to be levied on companies and individuals who chose to use Ercan airport in the North by Greek Cypriot opposition parties DIKO and EDEK.
“Using the illegal airport of Tymbou (Ercan) not only displaces passenger traffic from the legitimate airports of the Republic of Cyprus, resulting in substantial revenue losses for the state,” said Athos Antoniades of DIKO, “but it also serves to upgrade the pseudo-state while serving Turkey’s divisive intentions.”
The reaction by the two parties came after the release of figures collected by international air-travel data collection company OAG, according to which Ercan had dealt with a record 3.5-4 million passengers in 2015, despite the fact that it can only offer flights which must land in Turkey first, increasing journey time. In comparison, traffic at Larnaca airport was 5.4 million in 2015, while Paphos recorded 2.3 million. In 2016, Ercan is expected to see an increase in traffic of over 14%.
A proposal by the Greek Cypriot foreign ministry to implement the European acquis and punish airlines and passengers using the airport was turned down by ruling DISY and opposition AKEL.
DIKO called on the two parties to reject the argument for preserving what DIKO described as the “supposed good climate” in the ongoing Cyprus negotiations. They should be aware that “Turkey uses every opportunity to claim the Republic of Cyprus is defunct,” Antoniades said, calling for sanctions on all those who break the law.
This, he said, would protect the sovereignty of the republic and the Cypriot economy.
In parallel, socialist EDEK urged the government “to take immediate measures against those who use the airport”.
The party said, in a statement, that it was important that the Tourist Office should explain to all potential users of Ercan that the status of the airport was illegal and that it presented a risk to air traffic.
EDEK said it was also necessary to start an information campaign aimed at Cypriots to explain the negative economic and political impact of their use of the “illegal airport”.
The Green party, in a statement issued later on Monday, questioned where responsibility for the increase in passengers using the airport in the North lay.
“It seems that more and more compatriots choose to travel by air from the ‘occupied area’ due to low fares and taxes. Also many foreign visitors prefer the area due to the competitive hotel prices and services offered,” said the statement.
“This results in the Republic of Cyprus losing revenue, but also creating a situation of indirect recognition of the illegal airport.”
“Cypriot airports are not under government management for measures to be taken, and the company managing the airports has managed to introduce terms in its contract in order to be compensated when traffic increases at Tymbou (Ercan) airport.”
Far right ELAM made the radical suggestion that instead of opening up new border crossings, the existing ones should be closed, thereby blocking access to Ercan from the South.
“As the National People’s Front we ask everyone to understand that we are under occupation and we demand the government finally closes the checkpoints,” a statement said.