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Holiday flights to Cyprus facing disruption if Syria military action given go ahead

The Independent logo The Independent 11/04/2018 Simon Calder
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As the West considers what action to take against Syria for a chemical weapons attack on civilians, pilots flying in the eastern Mediterranean are being warned of “the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles”.

The alert, covering Cyprus and the surrounding skies, was published by Eurocontrol, the Brussels-based European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation. 

Eurocontrol reports that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued a “Rapid Alert Notification” for the key region of airspace south of eastern Turkey.

a close up of a map: flightradar24cyprus.png © Provided by The Independent flightradar24cyprus.png

Airlines are told: “Due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean/Nicosia FIR [Flight Information Region] area.”

The Nicosia FIR Area Control Centre, based 15 miles west of the Cyprus capital, manages the skies in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Controllers cover an area roughly the size of England, stretching from the southern coast of Turkey to close to the shores of Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

Air traffic in the region is usually busy, with many holiday flights serving the main Cypriot airports of Larnaca and Paphos. The southern sectors are used by aircraft connecting north-west Europe with Beirut, Amman and Tel Aviv, as well as traffic from Istanbul heading south-east to the Gulf and beyond.

More than 20 flights are due to take off from the UK to Cyprus on Wednesday. British Airways has two daily services from Heathrow to Larnaca, as well as a flight from Gatwick to Paphos. Ryanair has a departure from Stansted to Paphos, while easyJet flies to the island’s two airports from Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick and Luton.

a close up of a map: nicosiafir-eurocontrol.png © Provided by The Independent nicosiafir-eurocontrol.png

Thomas Cook Airlines has flights on Wednesday to Larnaca from Belfast, Birmingham, Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester, while Jet2 has links to Larnaca and Paphos from Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Stansted.

The Eurocontrol bulletin also warns of “the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment” in the event of military action.

In 2014, 298 passengers and crew died when MH17, a Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed over eastern Ukraine by a Russian-made Buk missile.

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