The British government has responded negatively to a petition on the UK Parliament website calling for direct flights to the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC).
The response, penned by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), said the “UK Government has no plans to authorise direct flights between the UK and the north of Cyprus,” adding that “direct flights would breach obligations under international law.”
The British government stated that it does not recognise the TRNC, only the Republic of Cyprus. As the “Republic of Cyprus has not designated any airport in the northern part of Cyprus with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)” no airports in the TRNC “are listed by ICAO as open for international traffic.”
The FCDO also point to a court case in 2009 between Cyprus Turkish Airlines and the UK government (Kibris Türk Hava Yollari v Secretary of State for Transport), which the Turkish Cypriot side lost. The ruling, centred on the outdated 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, further bolsters the UK government position that it cannot permit direct flights to North Cyprus.
Award-winning Cyprus Paradise – the UK’s largest tour operator to North Cyprus – backed the direct flights petition to Parliament.
Muhammet Yaşarata, the managing director of Cyprus Paradise, told T-VINE why it was important to support campaign:
“We believe all exposure to this issue is relevant and highlights the unjust problem facing Turkish Cypriots and other nationalities when travelling to North Cyprus.
“Unfortunately, we still face strong opposition and propaganda by other governments who continue to try and distort the truth, but we will never stop bringing attention to this very serious human rights issue.”
The petition, created in July by Hasan Özkoc, a young British Turkish Cypriot drinks entrepreneur, currently has 12,660 signatures.
Any petition which attracts over 10,000 signatures generates a response from the government. Those attracting over 100,000 signatures can be considered for a Parliamentary debate.
Government response in full to Parliament petition to “Authorise direct flights from the United Kingdom to North Cyprus (TRNC)”
The UK Government has no plans to authorise direct flights between the UK and the north of Cyprus. Direct flights would breach obligations under international law.
The UK Government has no plans to authorise direct flights between the UK and the north of Cyprus. In accordance with the rest of the international community, the UK does not recognise the self-declared ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ as an independent state. The United Kingdom recognises the Republic of Cyprus as the sovereign authority for the island of Cyprus. As a result, the UK Government cannot negotiate an Air Services Agreement with the administration in the north of Cyprus.
The Republic of Cyprus has not designated any airport in the northern part of Cyprus with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO); as such, no airports in that part of Cyprus are listed by ICAO as open for international traffic.
The UK High Court also ruled in 2009 (Kibris Türk Hava Yollari v Secretary of State for Transport) that allowing direct flights to Ercan airport in the north of Cyprus would breach our international legal obligations. This is because it would fail to respect the Republic of Cyprus’ rights under the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, including to choose which airports to designate as customs airports. This ruling was endorsed by the Court of Appeal in 2010.
In light of the above, it would be unlawful for the Government to authorise direct flights to the northern part of Cyprus.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, 21 September 2020