Details of three charter flights to repatriate Turkish Cypriots still stranded in the United Kingdom have been announced by tour operator Cyprus Paradise.
The chartered aircraft will take off from London Stansted, and fly to Ercan Airport in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) via Turkey. The departure dates are confirmed as 5, 11 and 17 June.
The repatriation flights are currently open to TRNC citizens whose permanent home is in North Cyprus. British expats with residency permits will not be allowed to travel on these initial three flights in June.
TRNC Council of Ministers decrees have staggered entry dates for people stranded abroad. The first wave commences today, allowing TRNC citizens with permanent homes in North Cyprus only to return home. “All three charter flights from London have been arranged with this group in mind,” government sources have told T-VINE.
The decree announced on Friday 29 May allows foreigners with TRNC residency permits to enter North Cyprus from 8 June. This morning, eligible expats have been contacting the TRNC London Office wanting to book a ticket for the repatriation flights on 11 and 17 June, only to be given the disappointing news that they can’t.
TRNC London Consul General Buket Kop: “The first three flights are for TRNC citizens only”
TRNC London Consul General Buket Kop told T-VINE, “The first three flights are for TRNC citizens only.”
Cyprus Paradise said, “We are trying to gauge the level of demand from non-TRNC citizens too, which will inform our future travel plans.”
Eligible TRNC citizens wishing to buy a ticket for one of these repatriation flights should register with the TRNC London Office as soon as possible, which will validate their residency status with the Turkish Cypriot authorities in Lefkoşa. Once this is confirmed, they will be able to book a flight with Cyprus Paradise for any of the three flights of their choosing.
Instrumental in the repatriation effort since March, the Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations in Britain (CTCA) is again working closely with the TRNC London Office and Cyprus Paradise. They will serve as the first point of contact for those wishing to be repatriated, including expats with residency.
The CTCA can be contacted via the social media pages or by emailing them on firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling them on 07496 267 033 / 07949 785 037.
Repatriation flight travel details
It is not clear if social distancing measures will be in place for the June flights, which could restrict the numbers on the 165-seater craft and bump up ticket prices.
A spokesperson for Cyprus Paradise told T-VINE that they will “confirm ticket prices soon”.
The spokesperson also stated that each passenger will have “a luggage allowance of 20kg”, which will be “strictly enforced” due to the small size of the aircraft.
“Those with more luggage [than the allowance] can have this sent on to the TRNC by [UK logistics firm] EuroMed, which will arrive before the 14-day quarantine period is completed,” said the spokesperson.
“Passengers should also note that due to a change in international aviation rules, carry-on luggage is no longer permitted, and the overhead lockers are out of use for repatriation flights.
“Passengers are only allowed a small handbag or laptop bag that can be placed underneath their seat,” the spokesperson further advised.
Main picture, top, of a repatriation flight for TRNC citizens from Britain after landing at Ercan Airport, 07 April 2020