Meeting at the Ministry of Tourism and Environment – 26th May 2017

Ismet Esenyel, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Environment asked Chris Elliott of cyprusscene.com to facilitate a meeting with representatives of expatriate NGO’s to discuss the new travel arrangements which come into effect on 1st June 2017 in respect of flights to and from Ercan Airport via Turkey to the UK with Pegasus Airlines.

The meeting took place at the office of Ismet Esenyel at the Ministry of Tourism on 26th May and was attended by Nicky Montgomery, (Anglo Turkish Association – ATA), Peter Wilkins and Mike Diplock (British Residents’ Society – BRS), Willy Lindh and Toon Hansen (The Foreign Residents in the TRNC – TFR), Mikhail Lalajev representing the Russian community.  A letter had been forwarded to the Undersecretary from John Aziz Kent – Honorary President of the Hoteliers Association giving his views and also an email from Sir Michael Graydon  – President of  the Royal British Legion – Kyrenia Branch.  Kerem Hassan of the Association of Turkish Cypriots Abroad and Cyprus Today newspaper was also present at the meeting.

Ismet Esenyel welcomed everyone and we were then joined by Zeki Ziya – Director of Cyprus Xp Group which represents Pegasus Airlines in the TRNC and Orhan Tolun – President of Cyprus Turkish Tourism and Travel Agents Union (KITSAB).

The participants at the meeting were invited to ask questions and Zeki Ziya confirmed that the new regulations have no bearing on the security in place at Ercan Airport, the reason given is that Ercan Airport is not “visible” and therefore all passengers both to and from the UK must disembark the aircraft in Turkey and be screened again, together with all of their luggage, before boarding a new flight from Turkey to the UK. This arrangement also applies on return flights from the UK to Ercan Airport despite passengers and luggage being screened at the UK departure airport.   He stated that this is very unfair treatment by the UK authorities as aircraft coming from most other European countries merely land in Turkey and then resume the journey to Ercan after a period of time on the tarmac, during which time the flight number is changed, which was the case previously with Pegasus Airlines.   Toon Hansen confirmed that when he travels from The Netherlands to the TRNC the aircraft lands and waits on the tarmac for a period of time before continuing the journey to the TRNC, the passengers do not have to disembark.

The screening process at Ercan Airport is carried out immediately passengers enter the building before checking in luggage and a further screening of passengers and hand luggage is carried out at passport control, before entering the departure area.   If there is not an issue with security at Ercan then why does the process have to be carried out again in Turkey?   By the same token this arrangement also applies on return flights from the UK to Ercan Airport despite passengers and luggage being screened at the UK departure airport, so why is there a need for screening again in Turkey?

There was much discussion about this and it was suggested that each of the NGO’s should write a letter to the British High Commissioner in Cyprus, asking for an explanation for these new regulations, when they have been perfectly adequate previously.

One other subject which was discussed was the fact that the UK Home Office had previously arranged training for Ercan Airport personnel for which certificates were also issued, but for some reason this practice ceased in 2014.   Why?

The new travel requirements issued by the UK Authorities will drastically affect tourism in the TRNC and also Pegasus Airlines which is the main carrier to and from the TRNC.