Heritage

Nicosia International Airport – “Ghost Airport of the Divided Capital City”

By Margaret Sheard……

We were invited to a screening of the documentary film “Ghost Airport of the Divided Capital City” at Chateau Status in the buffer zone and having written a few articles in conjunction with Captain Emre Unel, under the heading Cyprus Aviation History, one of Leading by Examplewhich covered the now abandoned Nicosia International Airport, we were delighted to accept and attend the event.  Having been in communication with Emre for some time by email and telephone, we were also very pleased to at last meet him in person.

The documentary film was made in 2015 by Sami Özuslu of Kanal Sim and there are Turkish and Greek language versions, it has been shown in South Cyprus and in September 2015 it was also shown at the EU Parliament in Brussels and has been very well received.  The project “Leading by Example” is co-funded by the European Union under the “Cypriot Civil Society in Action IV” programme and is jointly implemented by the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (KTTO) and the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).

There was an audience of both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots as well as other nationalities which was very significant with the still divided communities and the event was also attended by the Austrian Ambassador to Cyprus – Dr Karl Mueller, and Fikri Toros – President of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and Phidias Pilides, President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Fikri Toros and Phidias Pilides

Fikri Toros and Phidias Pilides

The evening commenced with speeches from both Fikri Toros and Phidias Pilides, who both expressed their wish for a settlement to the Cyprus problem to ensure a peaceful and prosperous future for this and future generations of Cypriots.  Sami Özuslu also spoke about the making of the documentary film and there was also a speech by a representative of the EU Cyprus office.

Sami Ozuslu and EU Representative

Sami Ozuslu and EU Representative

We settled down to watch the documentary which was very well made, informative and yet very sad and touching.   Those people who remember the airport when it was operational or have had the opportunity to visit in its present state, will understand the poignancy of the film.  We were pleased to see that our friend Captain Unel took part in the film as an interview and there was also video footage included in the film which was taken by his father many years ago with a cine camera.

On 20th July 1974, Turkey intervened to protect the Turkish Cypriots from the conflict which was ravaging the island and part of the film showed a visit to the now abandoned airport by the Greek Cypriot pilot – Captain Adamos Marneros, who landed the last aircraft on the tarmac which was subsequently destroyed by Turkish air strikes.   I had previously written an article in conjunction with Captain Unel about this event and at the time found it such a sad story.   So I was so pleased to see Captain Marneros arrive and I did manage to speak to him after the film had finished.   To see the article written about this event click here

Capt Adamos Marneros and Capt Emre Unel

Captain Adamos Marneros and also with Captain Emre Unel

At the end of the film, Captain Marneros gave his account of his experience which was highlighted in the film and went over the sequence of events which started on the 19th July 1974 until he actually left his aircraft after he landed at Nicosia International Airport on 20th July 1974.  Captain Marneros told us that there were two families on the aircraft, one Greek Cypriot and one Turkish Cypriot, he is pleased to say that he has found the Greek Cypriot family but is still searching for the Turkish Cypriot family, various leads have not found them but he said he will keep on searching.

I understand that in the future there may probably be a DVD of the documentary for sale and I would very much like to obtain it and enjoy seeing it again to be able to study it in more depth.

We were both pleased to have the opportunity to see this film documentary and thank everyone who had a part in this project and making of the film.

 Air Stewardesses

2 replies »

  1. Having landed at LCNC on the 19th and then witnessed events unfold the next morning, I too would be interested to see such a DVD

    I did go back on the 40th anniversary to revisit Hawker Siddley Trident 5B-DAB. With me was my friend and the co-pilot who made her last landing – we sat in front of the dusty and pillaged instument panel and tried to recall some of the checklists but other memories kept getting in the way ….. so we repaired to the sad and lonely little Trident Pub building at the bottom of the airport road for a few more thoughts and “what ifs”!

    With many many more thousands of flying hours in our logbooks it is still those early, always sunny, lotus eating days that we were fortunate to experience, and now recall. The dark forces that brought it all tumbling down were not apparent to us then – let us hope they never return