Daily News of Life and times in North Cyprus goes around the world
Tony Ali shared with us the link to a petition started by Ahmet Basturk on 2nd June 2017 to the Department of Transport UK which has had 4,923 signatures and after a further 77 signatures are added, it will be forward to the UK Department of Transport.
By Chris Elliott……
On our website cyprusscene.com we have written a number of informative articles about travelling with Pegasus Airlines for the benefit of those readers who wish to use the services of Pegasus Airlines to and from Northern Cyprus.
We were invited by Ismet Esenyel, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Environment, to arrange to bring representatives of expatriate NGOs to his office to discuss the changes in flight arrangements by Pegasus Airlines and joining us was Zeki Ziya, Director of Cyprus XP Group and Pegasus representative to explain why they were making changes to their method of flight operations and you can read more of this meeting by clicking here and also the statement by the Ministry of Tourism following this meeting by clicking here.
A lot has been written about why Pegasus Airlines have changed their efficient service of landing their aircraft in Turkey and then after re-fuelling and changing the flight number, they take their passengers to Ercan airport in Northern Cyprus without having to leave the aircraft between the UK and Northern Cyprus.
Pegasus Airlines transported 1.6 million passengers to and from Northern Cyprus during 2016 so any adverse changes in the method of passenger transfer just does not add up!
So what is the reality of the current situation and the best way to find out was to use their services and experience the changes as they occur which we did?
Margaret Sheard and I flew from Ercan to Izmir in Turkey on Wednesday 31st May and remained on board whilst the flight crew changed and the plane was refuelled, during which time we were asked by a Turkish immigration officer to show our passports for inspection.
So far so good, but NO, we saw our cases were being unloaded with other luggage from the cargo hold so we called back the very helpful Turkish immigration officer who after speaking with the flight crew said the offloading and reloading of cargo hold luggage for security checks seemed to have started early and we were assured we would receive it when we arrived at Stansted London Airport some 5 hours later. In addition, prior to our flight, we were contacted twice by telephone by Pegasus personnel in Istanbul to help us reconfirm our flights and seat bookings and to our surprise they offered to upgrade our meal 0rders to hot meals at no extra cost by way of apology that the changes were inconveniencing us.
Thank you Pegasus Airlines and Izmir Airport Authorities you did a grand job and we were reunited with our luggage at Stansted Airport, even though one suitcase had been damaged en-route, so why are the changes being made to make life so complicated?
On our return flight from Stansted Airport on the 14th June I had the normal frustration of seeing my worldly goods, hand luggage shoes and trouser belt disappear into a scanning machine whilst I first went through a general purpose metal scanner only for it to sound the alert because of my hip implant. I was then asked to be seated before being scanned in a ProVision 2 full body scanner similar to the one in the video at the foot of this article. After this scan I was given a hand wipe down search and then allowed to continue.
So on the return journey we arrived at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport where all passengers, including 4 passengers needing wheelchairs, were asked to leave the aircraft and for those passengers flying to Ercan to go to the International Transit Gate where once again we and our hand luggage were rescreened and in my case my false hip caused an alert with the general purpose metal scanner and after a hand wipe down search and check of my hip with a security wand scanner I was allowed to proceed through to the departure lounge.
We then waited at the departure gate and saw two of our fellow passengers in wheelchairs being taken through to board an aircraft. As we walked down the tunnel to the aircraft door I said to Margaret, this is the same aircraft named “Bade” and as we went back to our booked seats Margaret retrieved the in-flight magazine from the back of the seat in front and continued with the Sudoku puzzle she was enjoying when we landed. How mad is this?
Why is all this complexity and accelerating costs of travelling occurring?
Pegasus Airlines have said they that they have had to implement changes to their previous method of operation at the request of the UK Department of Trade and we have seen a letter shared on Facebook from which we have included the following extract.
So there we have it, the request to change is based upon a perceived and seemingly unseen security issue at Ercan Airport, so perhaps the UK authorities should visit Ercan and reflect on the fact that it has, in security terms, a first security line of defence where all passengers and their luggage are screened as they enter the departure building by scanners before they can check in for flights and hand over their luggage for cargo storage.
Compare this with London Stansted where many hundreds of arriving and departing passengers by the hour are in a large airport mall with no screening of them or their luggage as they enter the building. Remembering the terrorist attack at Manchester, I know where I feel most safe from such threats.
Here in North Cyprus, Ercan Airport has an additional line of defence after immigration control like Stansted Airport and to replicate the Security features experienced at Sabiha Gokcen International Transit Gate all that would be needed at Ercan Airport it would seem are hand wand security scanners.
If Ercan Airport wanted to emulate the best in security systems, perhaps they should look at the ProVision 2 full body scanners I was tested by at Stansted Airport and perhaps to help them achieve that state of the art security, perhaps they may be able to get EU or UN grants with advice and support to achieve that.
This then is a traveller’s experience of the trials and tribulations encountered when travelling with Pegasus Airlines who have had to change their method of flight operations to suit a request from the United Kingdom.
There are of course many organisations and individuals protesting at the changes that have been made and the impact on people and tourism and you can read some of their letters etc. below.
Embargoed – Letter from the Chairman to UK Secretary of State for Transport. Click here
Association of Turkish Cypriots Abroad – Letter from TRNC Representative to UK Secretary of State for Transport – Click here
We also note that ATCA have shared a link on their Facebook page to a petition of protest ” Direct flights to Turkish Republic of North Cyprus” that has received 3,576 signatures of support and those who also wish to pledge their support can do so by clicking here
Airport Security as it is developing but should it start at the front door like it does at Ercan Airport in Northern Cyprus?
By Chris Elliott……..
A week ago a group of expatriate NGO’s invited by cyprusscene, went to meet with Ismet Esenyel, Undersecretary of the TRNC Ministry of Tourism and Environment to be given information and discuss the new travel arrangements which came into effect on 1st June 2017 in respect of flights to and from Ercan Airport via Turkey to the UK with Pegasus Airlines which require all passengers and their luggage to be taken off the aircraft and be re-screened before boarding an aircraft to continue their flight to the UK.
Flights from the UK to Ercan via Pegasus Airlines will follow the same procedures as flights from Ercan to the UK.
With Ismet Esenyel was 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) to clarify the changes in travel arrangements
Since then we have endeavoured to monitor various initiatives to seek clarification of the reasons for changes and have received many enquiries from individuals and organisations asking for more information and advice.
We would like to thank Fikri Toros, the President of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce for clarifying the situation following the visit by High Commissioner H.E. Matthew Kidd to the Chamber to meet and clarify the situation to Fikri Toros, and Mr Zeki Ziya ( CEO of Cyprus XP Travel and Pegasus’ representative in North Cyprus ) and TCCC Secretary General, Mrs Aysun İleri.
High Commissioner H.E. Matthew explained that the request to Pegasus Airlines to adopt changes in their flight arrangements was requested by the authority within the UK Department of Transport was based upon technical issues as they have no visibility of the security applied at Ercan Airport and therefore have requested re-screening of passengers and their luggage at Turkish Airports to help counter the potential threats which are enacted by terrorists.
It should be noted that Pegasus Airlines carried 1.6 million passengers to and from Northern Cyprus in 2016 and they anticipated an increase in passengers carried in 2017 but the new flight arrangements for passengers who travelled with them in the past, when they remained on board aircraft, may result in passengers now considering visiting other destinations which will have an impact on Pegasus Airlines which is the main carrier to and from the TRNC and also the future of North Cyprus Tourism.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus reacted to the decision of the new arrangements by the UK in respect of flights from the TRNC via Turkey.
Ministry of Tourism Undersecretary, Ismet Esenyel, said that the decision was unacceptable and that a letter would be written to the authorities and an explanation about the matter would be requested.
In the statement made by the Ministry of Tourism, it was pointed out that the decision was a political intervention in the country’s tourism.
A meeting was held at the Ministry of Tourism and Environment regarding the new arrangements brought by the UK authorities in respect of flights originating from Turkey, and that passengers flying from Ercan to Stansted with Pegasus Airlines would have to disembark at Sabiha Gökçen (Istanbul) and Adnan Menderes Airports (Izmir) in Turkey for security control checks.
According to the information given by the Ministry, the meeting was attended by the Undersecretary of Tourism and Environment İsmet Esenyel, the General Director of Pegasus Cyprus Zeki Ziya and the Chairman of KITSAB Orhan Tolun and the NGOs ‘British Residents Society’, ‘Anglo Turkish Association’, ‘Russian Speaking Association’, ‘Foreign Residents in the TRNC’, ‘Cyprusscene’ and ‘Cyprus Today’.
At the end of the meeting, it was stated that the decision of the United Kingdom was absolutely unacceptable and should be questioned.
Undersecretary Esenyel said that the passengers who will travel from the TRNC cannot understand or see any sense in having to change planes and to go through security control in the Republic of Turkey. Esenyel said, letters should be written to the authorities by the expatriate NGO’s in which an explanation for the new ruling should be requested.
Esenyel noted that a decision for the NGO’s to contact the British High Commissioner should be made to question the purpose of the officials who have signed such an unfortunate decision which has been taken in respect of the so-called security of the TRNC.
Esenyel stated that the decision has been taken as a political intervention in the tourism of the country, which has had a significant rise in recent years, and this decision is unacceptable. The people living in the TRNC, and the NGOs they are affiliated with, will be followers of this issue.
Editor’s Note: To read the cyprusscene.com review of the meeting (which they attended) click here
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.
By Chris Elliott………
Having shared a link on a number of Facebook pages concerning the Sky News posting relating to Turkish Airlines action on the transportation of personal electrical equipment click here, I decided to email Pegasus Airlines and ask them if they would offer a similar service for transportation of personal electrical equipment on flights from Ercan to London as offered by Turkish Airlines for flights from Istanbul to London.
I received a reply from Pegasus Airlines and share the content and information below for those passengers intending to make flights from Ercan on Pegasus Airlines to London UK.
“Dear CHRIS ELLIOTT,
Thank you for your message.
We would like to inform you that you could check related web link about that situation.
Thank you for your interest.
To help our readers intending to fly from Ercan to London we have replicated the Pegasus Airlines webpage statement on the above link which we have shown below and if you want to read their original webpage posting or seek additional information, please click here
New hand baggage security requirements on flights to the United Kingdom
Due to new regulations announced by the related authorities in the United Kingdom, we would like to kindly inform our guests that any electronic device larger than a mobile phone or a smart phone, (ie any laptops, tablets, e-readers, gaming devices, keyboards, power cable transformers, spare or separate device batteries, portable power sources or external hard drives larger than 16cm long, 9.3cm wide or 1.5cm deep) are not permitted to be carried on board (with the passenger) on any of our flights arriving to any UK destination.
New cabin rules for all electronic devices carried on board as of 25th March 2017:
– Length: 16 cm
– Width: 9.3 cm
– Depth: 1.5 cm
– All devices must be switched off when packed into check-in baggage and must not be connected or fitted to any kind of portable charging device,
– Should be packed into strong boxes or safe packaging that will protect the device from damage during transportation and loading,
– Devices must be packed into the check-in baggage separately from all liquids (perfume, cream etc.)
The restriction is only applicable on flights arriving to the UK and does not affect flights departing from the UK to Turkey.”
The TRNC Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu received a member of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for the TRNC, Lord Balfe, in his office.
A planned visit to the TRNC by the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has been postponed.
Cavuşoğlu’s visit which was scheduled for today upon the invitation of the Foreign Ministry has been postponed due to changes in his programme.
A Turkish Cypriot culture day has been organised in the Hungarian capital Budapest.
The event – which was held at the Yunus Emre Institute – was organised by the TRNC’s Representative Office in Budapest and the Mediterranean Centre for Strategic Studies. It was attended by Hungarian people, Turkish people living in Hungary and guests from Azerbaijan.
Among those who attended were the Turkish Ambassador to Budapest Şakir Fakılı, the Azerbaijani Ambassador to Budapest Vilayet Guliyev, the Acting Pakistani Ambassador and Marton Gyöngyösi, the Deputy Leader of the main opposition party at the Hungarian Parliament, Jobbik.
Speaking at the event, the TRNC Representative to Budapest Selda Çimen stated that they have been representing the TRNC in Hungary for 3 years and that they are happy with the goodwill from both the opposition parties and the party in government, Fidesz.
The Higher Education Foreign Relations Department has stated that in total 11,960 students from Turkey will be educated in TRNC universities during the 2016-2017 academic year.
It was also stated that the number of students may increase at the end of the extra student placement exam. Last year, the number of students which came from Turkey to TRNC universities was 10,759.
The Greek Cypriot Education Minister has started an investigation into Greek Cypriot students flying to Trabzon with Pegasus Airlines to attend a sports tournament in Turkey.
The Greek Cypriot daily Fileleftheros, as well as several other newspapers, noted that according to a statement by the Greek Cypriot Ministry of Education, an investigation has been launched into the issue.
The statement highlighted that there is no common policy for using airlines which operate in the TRNC. The statement also called upon the Greek Cypriot Foreign Ministry and other authorized offices to determine a common process in order to prevent the same situation arising in the future.
To read more news and information from the TRNC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, please click here
Pictures shown are courtesy of the TRNC Public Information Office Facebook page.
I am talking of course about their very latest in-flight safety film of which it has to be said is Marvellous and features the Super Heroes of comic strip fame.
So next time to climb aboard for your next flight and buckle up you will be seeing the following film which is intended to keep you safe and sound as you fly Pegasus.