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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