As a result of the Turkish invasion in 1974 and the occupation of the northern part of Cyprus the air transport sector suffered a severe setback. Telecommunications installations and other vital equipment were destroyed or lost whilst Nicosia airport (the only airport in Cyprus at the time) was rendered defunct. As a consequence there were no air transport links between Cyprus and the rest of the world for seven months. This led to the urgent construction of Larnaka airport, which started operations in February 1975. To satisfy the needs of the growing tourist industry and to help in the development of the western part of the island, Pafos airport opened in 1983.

Both airports in Cyprus will soon undergo major redevelopment through the ´BOT´ method. The new airports are expected to be ready 3 to 4 years after the successful bidder is awarded the project. The management, operation and development of airports, air traffic control in the Cyprus FIR and the development of air transport between Cyprus and other countries are among the main responsibilities of the Department of Civil Aviation.

Cyprus International Conventions - Cyprus has signed various international conventions and has acceded to all international organizations in the field of civil aviation. Specifically, Cyprus has signed the Chicago Convention on Civil Aviation and the relevant protocols, is a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), Euro control, Airports Council International (ACI) and is in close cooperation with the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA).

To date Cyprus has signed bilateral air transport agreements with 50 countries. With the accession of Cyprus to the EU on 1 May 2004 bilateral agreements with member states were abolished since all Community carriers are free to operate flights within the EU. Bilateral agreements are still being used with third countries but they have to take into account the interests of the other Community carriers as well.

Cyprus Air Traffic - Over the past 2-3 years air traffic has been negatively affected as a result of the terrorist attack in the USA on 11 September 2001, the global economic recession, the war in Iraq and SARS.

During 2003, passenger traffic through Cyprus´ airports declined by 1.2% in comparison to 2002. At the same time there was an increase in aircraft movements and cargo. During 2003, 3535452 passengers were carried on 33307 scheduled flights, which represent 54,5% of the whole air traffic. The flights operated to/from the main European airports, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Africa, the Middle East and Arab countries. For Larnaka airport, almost 90% originated from Europe (73% from EU countries). The corresponding figure for Pafos airport was 99,3%.

The dependence of Cyprus on European markets is clearly evident. Around 25051 charter flights were operated during 2003 mainly from European countries and the CIS. These carried a total of 2947585 passengers that is 45.5% of the whole air traffic. Apart from the local airlines, 31 foreign airlines operated scheduled flights to Cyprus in 2003. At the same time, around 50 airlines operated charter flights to Cyprus.

Adoption of the Acquis Communautaire on Air Transport - Cyprus has committed itself to fully adopting the Acquis Communautaire on Air Transport, including the Third Aviation Package, which provides for full liberalization of the sector. A liberalized environment, combined with the redevelopment of the airports, will create the potential for Cyprus to become a regional hub between Europe and the Middle East. The regional role of Cyprus could be further enhanced through the proposed Euro-Mediterranean Transport Networks covering the fields of Flight Safety, Aviation Security, Market Access and Air Traffic Management.

Due to its geographical location and its traditionally good relations with neighboring countries, Cyprus has the potential of becoming a bridge between other Mediterranean countries and Europe in the air transport sector. Cyprus has already taken the initiative of establishing a regional office for the management of air traffic. On 4 February 2003 a protocol was signed between Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan for the creation of a mechanism for regional cooperation in air traffic management (European Middle East ATM Coordination – EMAC). Euro control and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) fully supported and actively took part in the establishment of EMAC.

Cyprus Airways - Cyprus Airways contribution to the tourist industry and the island's economy in general is a very significant one since it provides links with 30 destinations in Europe, the Middle East and the Gulf area, hence an important source of foreign exchange. Cyprus Airways, in close cooperation with the Government and other important bodies, undertakes joint ventures for the promotion of Cyprus tourism.

With Cyprus accession to the European Union and an increasingly liberalized aviation environment, Cyprus Airways requires a more competitive market orientation in the airlines structure and operations. This is the main target of current and future changes in the company. In 1992, Eurocypria, Cyprus Airways charter subsidiary, started operations. Eurocypria is designed to compete in the ever increasing charter market to Cyprus. Its fleet comprises four Airbus A320. The airline operates flights to 46 destinations in 13 European countries.

Source: Press And Information Office, Republic Of Cyprus, 2005