Bargain Mediterranean holidays for Brits on offer if airlines strike Turkey deal

Bargain holidays for Brits would be on offer if a 49-year international empasse could be resolved with a deal between airlines and Turkey, a campaign group has claimed.

The Freedom and Fairness for Northern Cyprus believe they have found “a safe and legal way” to end a ban on direct flights from the UK to the disputed state.

If successful it will make North Cyrpus easier for holidaymakers to visit with prices around 25 percent below those in the Republic of Cyprus because the breakaway self-declared state uses the Turkish lira instead of the euro.

Campaigners are contacting airlines operating in the region to ask them to make a deal with Turkey which would allow them to change destination once they were in Turkish airspace.

It would mean that Turkey’s air traffic control gave them a new flight number once they entered their airspace allowing them to fly directly to North Cyprus just 40 miles away.

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At present, direct flights from the UK to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) are prohibited because the UK in common with EU states and the US does not recognise the country.

The disputed territory is the result of Turkish troops being sent to North Cyprus in 1974 to protect Turkish Cypriots after a greek nationalist military junta took over in Cyprus.

Only Turkey fully recognises the TRNC and allows direct flights to its airport.

Moves to engineer direct flights come just as a £450million new airport has been opened in the TRNC.

Ercan (Tymbou) Airport is now the largest airport on the entire island of Cyprus, with an annual capacity of 10 million passengers and a 3,100-metre runway.

Direct flights would take just 4 hours from the UK for holidaymakers, expats and North Cypriots instead of having to change at Istanbul.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan landed on the new runway for the opening of the new airport and expressed his hopes that its completion will “serve the stability of the TRNC and the region” before calling for the introduction of direct flights worldwide.

He said: “I invite the international community to heed the call of then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who admitted there is no UN resolution that could justify the isolation of our Turkish Cypriot brothers, and I invite them to lift these restrictions.”

He singled out the United Kingdom, where there is a sizeable Turkish Cypriot community, as an example, and said that freedom of travel is a human right.

Speaking about the new terminal, President Tatar said: “The south hasn’t got an airport like this, and neither do most countries.”

The Freedom and Fairness for Northern Cyprus campaign are currently in discussions with all major commercial airlines in the region about the proposal and are optimistic that direct flights could begin “very soon”.

Chet Ramadan, Chairman of Freedom and Fairness for Northern Cyprus, said: “This would make such a positive impact on both the TRNC community travelling between North Cyprus and the UK – particularly the elderly who struggle with connecting flights.

“It is time that Turkish Cypriots were treated as equals, as humans by the international community. We have been isolated for almost fifty years – this could be a significant step forward.”

Dr Muhammet Yasarata, Founder and Managing Director of Cyprus Paradise, the leading travel operator to the TRNC, said: “Both British travellers and Turkish Cypriots have been facing challenges when attempting to fly to Northern Cyprus in both directions with layovers in Turkey significantly lengthening their journeys.

“This situation has been particularly difficult for many elderly individuals who find it hard to manage transit flights at Turkish airports.

“This circumstance is unjust and calls for improvement.”

There are also thousands of British expats living in North Cyprus.

Peter Wilkins of the British Resident’s Society of Northern Cyprus said: “For too long, anyone travelling between the UK and North Cyprus have been made to jump through hoops. It is completely unnecessary, and this development is very welcome.

“The current situation is discriminatory towards the elderly, disabled and those with young families. It also causes major environmental issues as two flights are needed rather than one.

“It is disappointing that airlines have to use a loophole to get around this madness rather than the UK Government stepping in and doing the sensible thing by allowing direct flights.”

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