Following a series of meetings with AOPA Cyprus and IAOPA, the authorities in Cyprus have removed obstacles which had the effect of making it impossible for pilots from Lebanon to fly into Larnaca and on to other destinations worldwide. The blockages, many of them security-related, have been relaxed to the point where any Lebanese pilot, pre-cleared by AOPA Lebanon, can fly to Cyprus with 72 hours notice. The Cypriots have agreed to work on reducing this to 24 hours. At the same time, moves have begun to reduce landing and handling fees at Larnaca from €450 to around €112. While these fees are still on the high side, they will have the effect of encouraging private flights between Lebanon and Cyprus, which have been almost
moribund for several years. The new head of the Cypriot CAAis a former general aviation pilot with some 800 hours experience and an understanding of the problems GA faces, and the low risk it represents. Cypriot officials are pictured above with IAOPA representatives from Germany, the UK, Lebanon and Cyprus. At a time when Cyprus is taking over the Presidency of the European Union, it is good to be able to report some positive aviation news from the island.
Clearance to fly into Cyprus at affordable cost is a huge boon to AOPA Lebanon pilots, who have effectively been confined to their country because of problems at Larnaca. Pilots have been reduced to flying local sorties from Beirut - the two other airfields in Lebanon are military-only. With the prospect of being able to fly only one hour to Cyprus opening up, the Lebanese have ordered two brand new glass cockpit Cessna 172s. AOPA Lebanon will do the pre-entry clearances, sending the names and details to Cyprus three days ahead for flights to be pre-authorised.
Martin Robinson, who took part in the negotiations, said: "We are now working with the airport to get the landing and handling down from €450 to a more sensible level, and the target price is €112. The airport wants a couple of weeks to sort this out with the handling agent and we believe we will get some progress there.
"The Cypriot aythorities, from the Minister of Transport and the Head of the CAA on down, have been very helpful and there is a lot of goodwill between all parties. The airport is keen to see more traffic coming through, so everyone is a winner. To pilots outside Lebanon it may seem onerous to have to arrange on a Wednesday to fly on the Satuday, but that is a huge improvement on the situation before today, and we will be working to reduce the notice period further."