Fly Kıbrıs Airlines has made its first flight, taking off from Ercan Airport in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus early on Sunday morning carrying government ministers, tourism sector professionals and Turkish Cypriot media to Istanbul Airport in Turkiye.
The airline then welcomed its first paying guests, who boarded its A320 Airbus aircraft for a flight back to Ercan, which departed Istanbul at 10am local time on Sunday, 16 April.
Those on board included Rauf Denktaş, who sits on the airline’s board of directors, the TRNC’s Transport Minister Erhan Arıklı and Tourism Minister Fikri Ataoğlu, and former TRNC Tourism Minister and Democrat Party leader Serdar Denktaş (also Rauf’s father).
Launching with the slogan “Cyprus is now closer to everywhere” [‘Kıbrıs artık her yere daha yakın’], Fly Kıbrıs Airlines (FlyKhy) is the TRNC’s first privately-owned airline.
The country has been without an airline since the demise of the state-owned Cyprus Turkish Airlines (KTHY), which was founded in 1974 but went bust in 2010.
At FlyKhy’s launch event at Ercan Airport last month, airline director and founding partner Rauf Denktaş, the grandson of the TRNC’s founding President Rauf Denktaş, said that Turkish Cypriots “now have” their own airlines again.
He described FlyKhy as “the people’s airline”, before unveiling the name of its first aircraft, Melekler Takımı [Team of Angels], the legacy name created to remember the Turkish Cypriot school party of 35 who tragically died in the earthquake in Adıyaman, Turkiye, in February.
“With its competitive pricing policy and its contribution to the freedom of travel of our [Turkish Cypriot] society, and its contribution to our [TRNC] economy with the tourists it will bring to our country, Fly Kıbrıs Airlines will become the people’s airline,” Denktaş stated in March.
Initially, FlyKhy will operate daily between the TRNC and Turkiye, with flights to Izmir, Ankara, Antalya, and Istanbul.
From May, the airline will also operate charter flights to Amman (Jordan), Baku (Azerbaijan), Erbil (Kurdistan Region of Iraq), and Pristina (Kosova), and grow its network of destinations in Turkiye.
Fly Kıbrıs brings the total number of airlines regularly flying to Ercan Airport to four, with Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, and Anadolu Jet the other three airlines with scheduled flights to the TRNC.
Due to the international isolation of North Cyprus – at the insistence of Greek Cypriots – Ercan Airport currently only has direct flights from Turkiye. Ercan handles around 4 million passengers each year, making it the second largest airport on the island of Cyprus.
With the number of airlines and passengers growing, Ercan Airport is set to open a new state-of-the-art terminal to accommodate more and larger aircraft.
Although the construction was delayed by several years due to financial problems, the terminal was scheduled to open in November 2022, before facing yet more delays. There had been hopes the new Ercan would welcome its first passengers for Ramazan Bayramı this weekend, but officials have said the airport is still not ready. It is, however, expected to open ahead of the busy summer season.