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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-06-24
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Wednesday, June 24, 1998
 £100,000 and some very angry touristsBy Charlie Charalambous
A EUROCYPRIA pilot chose to keep his Larnaca-bound Airbus grounded in Dublin when cleaning delays meant his allotted flying time would be exceeded.
Nearly 200 Irish holidaymakers, who arrived in Cyprus a day late, were not amused.
The flight was scheduled to arrive at Larnaca on Sunday afternoon, but only landed on Monday, with untold damage done to Cyprus's reputation as a holiday island.
Cyprus Airways spokesman Tassos Angelis said the affair had cost the company £100,000 by disrupting the whole of Eurocypria's schedule.
"Apart from the economic consequences, this has created a bad impression among big UK tour operators, such as Thomson, and Cyprus's image as a tourist destination has also suffered a blow."
It is understood the aircraft was held back in Dublin because the cleaners were late, as was the refuelling. Because of the delay, the Eurocypria captain decided he could not risk taking the plane to Larnaca as it would overshoot his regulation flying time.
The Airbus remained grounded because the pilot apparently refused to extend his maximum flying time by the two hours necessary.
The pilot initially agreed to fly as far as Athens, and a new crew was sent there to take over the last leg to Larnaca.
Angelis said written instructions had been given to the pilot to divert to Athens, as he had requested.
But the pilot then decided time had run out for that option too, and the plane did not leave Dublin until the next day.
Pilots' union Pasipy said yesterday the captain was well within his rights to ground the plane and that he risked losing his licence if he exceeded internationally regulated flying times.
The union blames Cyprus Airways management for running tight schedules, which they say cannot accommodate unforeseen delays.
"We never ask any pilots to violate international regulations," Angelis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
 Turk jets violate Cyprus's air spaceA SQUADRON of ten Turkish F-4 and F-16 fighter planes violated Nicosia flight information region for three hours yesterday.
CyBC reported that the ten war planes flew over Nicosia and northwest of Paphos between 10am and 1pm.
The flights were part of the Turkish army's 'Sea Wolf' military exercises being conducted in the occupied north and scheduled to finish on June 26.
 Koshis grilled over House securityBy Martin Hellicar
JUSTICE Minister Nicos Koshis was yesterday grilled by the House ad hoc security committee about police measures to protect House president Spyros Kyprianou and the parliament building.
Last week, Kyprianou -- incensed by a cabinet decision to reduce his personal guard from 35 to 13 police officers -- banned all guards from the House. Since then, the only visible security at the building has been in the form of two uniformed officers patrolling its perimeter, though Koshis has promised this is not the sole measure in force.
The debate got off to a bad start, with deputies questioning the minister's readiness to be flexible on the issue. Koshis was at pains to state he did not consider the issue closed -- despite the Cabinet decision to reduce the personal guards of all politicians -- and was willing to take deputies' views into account. "We will listen to everything," he said.
On the strength of these assurances, deputies launched into an attack on police efforts to guard the House and politicians.
Diko deputy Marios Matsakis summed up the committee position by saying he agreed with the principal of reducing personal guards but felt the cabinet had gone too far.
But Koshis replied that no politician was really at risk in Cyprus. "No one is at risk except (Edek leader Vassos) Lyssarides for whom there was information of threats," Koshis said.
"The question is whether we want to provide security or entourages," he said, adding that more officers could always be assigned to a politician deemed to be at risk.
Akel deputy and former deputy police chief Costas Papacostas disagreed. "You cannot say no-one is at risk in a semi-occupied land and when organised crime has not been wiped out," he said.
"Are you not at risk?" Papacostas asked the minister.
"I do not feel at risk, I go out without guards," Koshis replied.
"I believe that if someone wants to kill you they will," he added.
"All assassinated leaders were killed by their guards anyway," quipped committee chairman Antonis Karas -- but the committee as a whole was unimpressed with the minister's laid-back approach.
Deputies also said security at the House building left much to be desired, and questioned police plans to treat this as a separate issue to that of politicians' guards.
Deputy police chief Andreas Christofides said separating the two would lead to "smoother" operations. "There is no reason for having both guards under the same leadership, they have separate missions," Christofides said.
Koshis also said the guards posted to the House, Presidential Palace and Attorney-general's office would in future be rotated regularly to avoid corruption.
 Pilots hit back over cash claimsBy Charlie Charalambous
MUCH-MALIGNED Cyprus Airways (CY) pilots tried to enhance their public image yesterday by declaring that they were not money-grabbing rogues.
CY Pilots union Pasipy held a press conference to stress that they were not pleading poverty and they did not want huge pay rises from the airline.
"With every opportunity, the company tries to shape public opinion into believing that the pilots' inflated wages are to blame for its financial problem," said Pasipy spokesman Captain Charalambos Tappas.
Though not specifically alluded to, the pilots were clearly still smarting from Sunday's Cyprus Mail report on their generous salaries.
"We have never said we are badly paid and we are not greedy, but the company's problems do not lie with us," said Tappas.
At the conference, a large billboard-sized pay slip was displayed to prove that an experienced pilot only takes home £3,248 a month.
Other facts and figures were introduced to counter charges that pilots enjoyed supersonic wages at a time when the national carrier is drowning in debt (losses for 1997 are estimated at £3.2 million).
"We keep hearing that pilots earn salaries of around £100,000 and more, it's time we put these rumours to rest for good," Tappas said.
A comparative table of costs putting CY side by side with major airlines was brought out to prove the point that Pasipy was not greedy.
According to Pasipy, the cost per head of a pilot to CY is £54,870, compared to £62,835 for British Airways and £89,960 for Lufthansa.
Only low-cost charter companies Britannia (£49,117) and Monarch (£39,117) have less expensive pilots than CY, the Pasipy study claims.
The CY figure is for 1994, and British Airways has huge operating profits, unlike the national carrier.
The company estimates that this year, the cost of a CY Airbus captain stands at over £80,000.
But Pasipy no longer want to be the scapegoat for the company's ills.
"Everybody knows there is a surplus of personnel at the company. Was it perhaps the pilots who hired these staff willy nilly?" Tappas wondered wryly.
With the CY wage bill currently totalling £40 million a year, the company is still hiring staff at the rate of two people a week.
Pasipy argues that its latest gripe with management is over job security and fears that CY pilots will lose their jobs as sister company Eurocypria takes over more of its traditional routes.
There is also the question of CY pilots being allowed to apply for promotions within Eurocypria.
"Our demands are not financial; we just want a job security guarantee," said Tappas.
Pasipy has given CY management until mid-July to respond to its demands or face strike action with the prospect of stranded tourists at the height of the Summer season.
 Cyprus airways plans Athens shuttle as EasyJet loomsBy Charlie Charalambous
LOW cost, no frills flights to Athens could soon be on offer from Cyprus Airways in response to imminent competition for the route from cut-price airline EasyJet.
Cyprus Airways has already had preparatory talks with its Greek counterpart Olympic Airways to offer a shuttle service between Athens and Larnaca at a cost of no more than £90 return.
This is the same bargain price as is currently being offered by CY to Athens until the end of June.
Plans are for the shuttle service to run every two hours and for tickets to be available on the plane.
Representatives from Olympic are expected in Cyprus next month to discuss the matter further.
Other issues on the agenda are a similar co-operation for the Salonica route, with connections to two other destinations beyond, and the possibility of establishing charter flights between Cyprus and Greece.
EasyJet is to launch its Luton-Athens service on July 10 at an introductory price of £35 (one-way), thereafter increasing to £69. The cut-price airline hopes to establish an Athens-Larnaca route next year.
If the government agrees to grant EasyJet landing rights -- it has no obligation to do so until it becomes a full EU member -- then EasyJet would be in direct competition with CY.
And Cyprus Airways has realised that EasyJet and its likes cannot be stopped for ever, and sooner or later they will be competing for the same customers.
"Sooner rather than later we are going to have low-cost airlines in Cyprus and we need to respond by having cheaper flights to Athens and London; it's the only way forward," said a CY source.
 Markides spars with lawyer over Aeroporos acquittalBy Martin Hellicar
MORE VOLLEYS were fired yesterday in the ongoing spat between lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou and Attorney-general Alecos Markides over the acquittal of three Aeroporos brothers charged with the attempted murder of Antonis Fanieros in Larnaca last year.
Efstathiou -- who secured the release on Friday of Aeroporos brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30, and Panicos, 25 - accused Markides of interfering in his private life and perverting the course of justice.
Markides has criticised Efstathiou for attending a post-acquittal party thrown by the Aeroporos brothers on Sunday, saying it gave the "wrong messages" to the public. He also said the Assizes court decision to free the three was wrong and that his office would be challenging the decision to acquit the brothers at the Supreme Court.
The Attorney-general repeated both positions yesterday.
"It is an entirely personal matter," Efstathiou protested. "Markides is taking advantage of a personal visit to the parental home of these kids (his clients), which I was obliged to make," Efstathiou said of Sunday's bash at Kolossi village outside Limassol -- given wide coverage on television and in the papers the following day.
"I had not imagined the media would be there and this whole issue would be created."
He defended his attendance of the party by saying he had gone there to urge the Aeroporos brothers to stick to the straight and narrow.
"This was a good thing I did, and something the older generation should do for the younger generation -- especially if they enjoy their respect," he said.
But Markides, responding to these comments, stuck to his guns and denied any intrusion into Efstathiou's personal affairs.
"What personal life (does Efstathiou speak of)? He took part in a party which was of public interest and the media were there and the pictures were transmitted all over Cyprus," Markides said.
Efstathiou also challenged Markides on his statement that the Assizes decision had been flawed.
"Such strong criticism of a court decision gives the message that the courts do not function well, which is not true. If we have something untainted in this country it is the standard of our courts," he said.
Efstathiou said such criticism from Markides would make it hard for any judge to acquit anyone ever again.
Markides repeated that his office would be seeking to have the Assizes decision overruled by the Supreme Court. He said the appeal would be lodged as soon as the official text of the assizes court decision on the Aeroporos case was made available.
Markides also said he had asked President Clerides not to allow the chief of police to meet with the Aeroporos brothers, as requested by Efstathiou on Sunday.
"I believe such a meeting would again give the wrong messages," he said. Clerides had agreed with him on the matter, Markides said.
Efstathiou was unrepentant. "It is up to the chief of police," he said, adding that the 13-month trial had tarnished the Aeroporos' image and that they wanted a chance to reassure the chief of police that they would cause no trouble.
The lawyer also promised that the brothers would not be seeking revenge against anyone after their acquittal.
Chief prosecution witness Tassos Simellides, who is serving a nine-year sentence for acting as get-away driver for the shooting on May 29 last year, named Hambis as instigator, Andros as architect and Panicos as hit-man for the attack.
In its decision, the Assizes stated police and Justice Minister Nicos Koshis had "made promises" to Simellides to get him to testify against the brothers.
During the trial, Efstathiou labelled Simellides a liar who had cut a deal with police to help secure the conviction of the Aeroporos brothers in exchange for seeing out his sentence at a country estate and passage abroad afterwards.
Last year's attack was described as a gangland hit, part of an on-going feud between Limassol and Larnaca gangs vying for control of lucrative gambling, prostitution and drugs rings.
Fanieros, 57, survived, despite being hit in the neck as he came under a hail of machine-gun fire.
The Assizes noted that no finger-prints belonging to any of the Aeroporos brothers were found on either the motorbike, the machine-gun or any of the other items found by police with Simellides' help after the attack.
 Water balloons due north tomorrowTHE OPERATION to ferry water from mainland Turkey to the occupied areas using giant balloons begins tomorrow, after being postponed since late April.
According to reports in yesterday's Turkish press, Dogan Altinbilek, Director of Turkey's State Water Works, said the project had been completed at a cost of $4 million. The first of the plastic balloons to undertake the journey has a volume of 10,000 cubic metres, and it will later be joined by a further two, each with the same capacity. The first will be brought into use in July and the second in August.
Altinbilek promised a non-stop operation, with one balloon emptying its load at a facility in occupied Morphou bay, while another was filling up at Suguksu in Turkey.
The balloons are expected to transport three million cubic metres of water in their first year of operation. This amount is expected to meet the drinking water requirements of occupied Nicosia and Famagusta.
The second stage of the plan, due for completion by the turn of the century, will see several balloons being strung together to make deliveries; these will carry around seven million cubic metres a year. There are also plans to construct a pipeline along the sea bed from Turkey for irrigation purposes. This would bring between 70 and 100 million cubic metres of water a year to the north.
The first water delivery from the balloon project had been scheduled for April 23, but was postponed because the landing facility at occupied Syrianochori was not completed in time. The project is masterminded by a joint Turkish-Norwegian venture, which will earn 55 cents per cubic metre of water carried.
 Union says doctors can't have their money backTHERE is no legal basis for government doctors to demand the return of contributions they have already made to civil service union Pasydy, the union's president Andreas Papapolitiou said yesterday.
Speaking to journalists, he said the doctors could not leave the union and ask for their contributions to be paid back, adding that the union offered its members many benefits, which much of the money had already been used to pay for.
Asked what Pasydy would do if the doctors took their claims to court, Papapolitiou said the union was ready to face anything.
The doctors voted last week to form their own breakaway union after claiming that Pasydy had neglected their interests. They claim pay rates have been static for too long, and want more concrete rules relating to their working conditions and overtime.
They are now also calling for a portion of their contributions to Pasydy to be returned to them.
The doctors' financial contributions to Pasydy amounted to £60,000 per year.
 Rolandis pledges support on hotel sewage feesLIMASSOL sewerage fees for hotels are unbearable and the Tourism Ministry is hoping to resolve the problem, according to Minister Nicos Rolandis.
Rolandis met representatives of the Cyprus Hotels Association (CHA) in Limassol yesterday, and said the sewerage fees were particularly severe at a time when hotels costs were rising.
Limassol hoteliers are complaining about the high sewerage fees they face as well as the assessment method adopted by the Limassol Sewerage Council over the last five years.
The main point of contention is the assessment method, which charges hotels more than households, shops and other industries.
The Tourism Minister assured hoteliers that his ministry would look into the matter with the hope of reaching a satisfying solution as soon as possible.
CHA representative, Yiorgos Tsanos, said the fees were unfair because hotels were expected to pay 0.88 per cent of the hotel's estimated value in sewerage fees, whereas other industries pay only 0.44 per cent of their value and households only 0.22 per cent. And to illustrate his point, Tsanos said that while hotels reached an average 50 to 60 per cent capacity at one time, apartment buildings were always 100 per cent full.
The hotels took their case to the High Court in 1993, but the court ruled against them, finding that the rate of the fees was fair.
 Captured Greek is fineA GREEK Cypriot man remanded by the Denktash regime for three days is fine, according to the United Nations forces.
Stelios Ioannou, 45, from Kato Pyrgos Tyllirias, was apprehended by Turkish occupation forces on Monday when he crossed into the north near Paphos Gate in Nicosia.
He was remanded for three days on charges of entering a first degree security military area.
Unficyp spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski said the UN visited Ioannou yesterday and on Monday and reported that he was in good spirits.
He is expected to be released today.
 US anger as artist barred from his own exhibitionAMERICAN Ambassador Kenneth Brill has reacted angrily to the Denktash regime's refusal to grant permission to a Turkish Cypriot artist to attend the opening of his own exhibition in the buffer zone, Turkish Cypriot papers reported yesterday.
"There cannot be such restrictions in democratic communities," Brill is quoted as saying.
Woodcarver Sinasi Tekman could not attend the opening of his exhibition at the Fulbright Centre in the buffer zone on Monday night because Turkish Cypriot authorities did not allow him to cross.
But Tekman was not overly upset: he was quoted as saying he was first and foremost a Turkish Cypriot nationalist and preferred not to go, if his going was against the policy of his community.
Republican Turkish Party leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, however, said the incident was shameful and that "a one-man, one-master climate" prevailed in the north. "Nothing worse could be done to our people," he added.
The American Centre, which organised the exhibition played down the event yesterday, telling the Cyprus Mail that it was not uncommon for people to be denied permission to cross into the Buffer Zone.
"It depends on the situation," an American Centre spokesman said. "Sometimes they are granted permission to come, sometimes they are not." He said it was not a problem and pointed out that a statement by the artist was read out at the opening.
 Police chief stands down"I LEAVE a happy man," said police chief Panicos Hadjiloizou on his way out of the Presidential Palace yesterday after formally submitting his resignation to President Clerides.
"I will be the first to be happy as long as the police force is doing well and the first to be saddened if it doesn't," he stated when asked to explain his first comment.
Hadjiloizou, who has been police chief for two years, is to be succeeded by lawyer Andreas Angelides, who will be appointed on July 1.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998