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New Larnaca Airport Opens

The long-awaited, brand new Larnaca International Airport was officially opened by President Demetris Christofias on Saturday and operations will officially begin on 10th November. Flights with Cyprus Airways and EasyJet will use the new airport from Tuesday and all other airlines will gradually transfer their arrivals and departures over the course of the following week.

According to The Cyprus Mail, President Christofias declared that Cypriots should be feeling especially proud of their new airport. He referred to the significant role the new building will play when Cyprus takes over the EU presidency in 2012, offering the highest level of service and establishing Cyprus as a key transit point in the broader Eastern Mediterranean area. Costing ‚,¨656.3 million, the airport will have the capacity to handle 7.5 million passengers per year, with the option of raising its operational capacity to 9 million.

The old Larnaca airport was opened in February 1975, just 6 months after the Turkish invasion, which had left Nicosia airport marooned inside the buffer zone. However, an operational airport was vital to Cyprus in the years following the invasion because the tourist industry became one of the biggest crutches for the Cypriot economy. So a rushed passengers building was set up in Larnaca and a wooden control tower built. Many of the old airports buildings had a rather temporary,  thrown together appearance.

For 35 years, Larnaca airport did its bit for the economy, receiving millions of visitors every year, but for many years now, the government has been aware that it was in dire need of an upgrade and now it finally has it.

The new Larnaca International Airport is a modern, well-designed airport, with 4 times the floor-space of the old airport, more check-in desks (including 8 self-check-in areas), more shops and a far bigger parking area. Whats more the new terminal has been delivered on time and within budget. The new premises, which took just over three years to complete, were built by the French firm Bouyges.

The President clearly has high hopes for the new airport and said that it will help Cyprus emerge from the grip of the financial crisis. Communications Minister, Nicos Nicolaides commented that it should help to revive and further boost tourism, increase transit trade and attract new investment to the island.

The government is doing its bit to help by reducing landing duties by 25% and offering airline companies €4 for every passenger they transport, which will cost them €16 million in total.

So, 35 years after the old Larnaca airport was rushed into service, Cyprus has two newly-upgraded International airports, at Paphos and now Larnaca.

At the opening on Saturday, a very proud President Christofias said that it was a historic day and no doubt regular users of Larnaca airport will agree!

Author: Anne Hall

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