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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-07-07

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Tuesday, July 7, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Tourists hit again by `time-up' pilot
  • [02] Dame Ann offers hopes and handshakes
  • [03] Yachtsman `hostage' in new crane row
  • [04] Mayor wants beach law amended
  • [05] Two held after helping retrieve stolen goods
  • [06] Kambos fire brought under control
  • [07] Airline chairman denies nepotism allegations
  • [08] Defence Minister on official visit to Moscow
  • [09] Cyprus Airways to cut fares and wages

  • [01] Tourists hit again by `time-up' pilot

    By Charlie Charalambous

    FOR the second time in as many weeks a Eurocypria pilot has delayed a Dublin-Larnaca flight, making an unscheduled stop at Athens on the grounds that his flying time would be exceeded if he went to Cyprus.

    This latest incident has left Cyprus Airways management seething and a number of big tour operators threatening to pull the plug on the Dublin- Larnaca charter route.

    "British tour companies First Choice and Thomson said if this was repeated they would reconsider their policy towards Eurocypria," an industry insider told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Sources allege that this fiasco and similar problems are part of a "dirty war" being waged by some pilots with the national carrier.

    In the latest incident, some 173 passengers originally destined for Larnaca had their flight delayed by six hours when the Eurocypria captain decided his flying time was up and he made an unscheduled stop at Athens.

    On Sunday, flight EC809 departed from Dublin at 1.15pm but after 90 minutes into the journey the pilot decided that he would run out of flight hours if he went on to Larnaca and called for a crew to be dispatched to Athens to take over.

    The company argues that the pilot would not have violated civil aviation guidelines if he agreed to extend his flight schedule to enable the tourists to arrive on time. "According to international regulations, pilots have the power to extend flying time for up to three hours but it's up to them," said the Cyprus Mail source.

    Two weeks ago the same charter flight arrived at Larnaca a day late when, following cleaning and air traffic delays at Dublin, the Eurocypria pilot ruled that taking the plane to Larnaca would mean overshooting his regulation flying time.

    That Airbus was grounded at Dublin, although the company said that flying it to Larnaca would only have meant a two-hour extension to the pilot's time, which was allowable. This incident, said Cyprus Airways, disrupted the entire Eurocypria schedule, costing the company 100,000.

    Not only has this latest incident inflicted another unwanted financial blow to Cyprus Airways and worsened strained relations with the pilots, but the national carrier has received a new body blow to its flagging reputation.

    "If we can't fulfil our commitments then we must suffer the consequences, but how can you evaluate loss of credibility?" said a source close to Eurocypria. The Cyprus Airways charter wing lost the lucrative German market two years ago when tour operator Neckermann cancelled its contract after similar time delays.

    Sources have told the Cyprus Mail that the Dublin debacle is part of a "dirty war". Other incidents have also hit Cyprus-bound tourists.

    "On one flight from Norway the pilot decided to take the passengers but leave the catering and luggage behind," said the source. "The opposite happened in Scotland when 20 passengers were sacrificed instead because the aircraft was apparently overloaded."

    The insider said that, for obvious reasons, the struggling airline has tried to keep these unsavoury episodes under wraps but their patience is running on empty. "The litany of disasters has been kept a secret because the airline was embarrassed about the bad publicity, they're not embarrassed any more," said the insider.

    After the earlier Dublin incident, the pilots' union, Pasipy, said 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 unions blame Cyprus Airways for running tight schedules which they argue cannot accommodate unforeseen delays.

    [02] Dame Ann offers hopes and handshakes

    By Hamza Hendawi

    WITH THE zeal of the convert and the self-confidence of the tested, Cyprus' new UN boss, Dame Ann Hercus, ushered herself into the complex world of the national problem yesterday with a declaration of high hopes, dozens of handshakes and a mixed message to the island's media.

    Addressing a news conference on her first day in the job, Hercus spoke of her background as a diplomat and a politician, why she felt, as a New Zealander, she was best suited for the job and the energy and ideas she planned to invest in the search for a settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    She recalled with obvious pride the call she received one day last March from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan offering her the Cyprus job, and declared her "enormous respect" to the Ghanian at the helm of the international body.

    "One does not say `no' to the Secretary-General of the United Nations," said Dame Ann Hercus, a grandmother from Christchurch, New Zealand. She served in the 1970s and 1980s as a member of parliament and minister of social welfare, police and women's affairs in her native country.

    "I am here to listen to the two leaders, to offer a new UN perspective from time to time and follow through on initiatives," she said.

    "I shall help the two sides to arrive at a settlement which will give Greek and Turkish Cypriots a peaceful, prosperous future for which they have been yearning," said the 56-year-old Hercus, who replaced American Gustave Feissel as the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Cyprus.

    As a New Zealander, she said, she will bring to the job a "very practical streak, creativity and integrity."

    Coming from the last stop before Antarctica, as she put it, she came to Cyprus "with no baggage, no particular ties or alliances with this part of the world that would make an even-handed approach difficult."

    "I would be really disappointed if you did not find me full of fresh ideas... I come with very clear views," said Hercus, who says she has been a "devoted reader" on Cyprus since she was offered the job in March.

    The new UN boss shook hands with the estimated 50 journalists and television news crew who showed up for her 10.30am news conference. "I want to meet every one of you," said Hercus, who was wearing a short-sleeved, beige, linen dress and a pearl necklace.

    Bespectacled with short silver hair, she followed up her goodwill gesture with this warning for the media: "When I say `no comment,' I mean `no comment.' Don't ask again. I was a former police minister."

    Her warning, veiled with a smile, was followed by promises of invitations to journalists "to share some hospitality" at her residence and claims of sympathy with the pressures of the profession. "I understand deadlines and I'll not keep you waiting for long."

    [03] Yachtsman `hostage' in new crane row

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE slightest mention of blue and yellow cranes is again prompting boat owners to threaten a boycott of Larnaca marina, leaving Cyprus' seafaring reputation high and dry.

    "We've been caught up in a nightmare situation with these cranes," said one frustrated British yacht owner, Jolyon Hillier. "Our boat was lifted out of the water as agreed then used as a blockade to stop the other crane moving."

    Hillier had chosen Larnaca as the ideal place to get some rest after spending two years cruising around the world with his wife. Now he's regretting the decision.

    "It's my first time to Cyprus and I'm getting some very nasty treatment and nobody's even apologised... it's disgusting," he said.

    This latest dispute - with the crane in the blue corner taking on the crane in the yellow corner - follows a previous battle of the cranes. With that still fresh in the memory, boat owners are having second thoughts about Cyprus.

    "Yacht owners are getting on the ham radios telling other boats who want to come here to `sod it'," one boat owner told the Cyprus Mail.

    Three months ago the costly crane tender dispute seemed to have been resolved when the crane in the blue corner was forcibly removed by police to allow boats free movement in and out of the water.

    The lengthy row over which company should operate which crane reportedly cost the economy hundreds of thousands in lost tourism. But following a Larnaca court decision last Friday a crippling deadlock is back on the cards.

    Since March the yellow crane, which was awarded the 1998 tender by the CTO, went about its business unhindered until the court ruled that the blue crane should return because the CTO had not secured an injunction order beforehand.

    No sooner had the ink dried on the court decision, when the renewed stand- off captured Hillier as its first victim.

    "I'm being told (by the marina management) that my boat is being used an obstacle to stop the blue crane moving and I could be stuck here until September because of the legal situation," said the Hong Kong-based Briton.

    Hillier, who owns the 10-metre yacht Caribee, said he had protested at being used as a pawn by the opposing cranes but his pleas to be put back in the water were rebuffed. "The yellow crane owner said `I can put you where I want and there's nothing you can do.' It's going a bit too far using a foreign vessel as hostage."

    As other boats get caught up in the stalemate, there seems little the CTO can do either while it waits for the legal wrangle to be resolved by the courts.

    [04] Mayor wants beach law amended

    By Staff reporter

    As the popularity of Ayia Napa's beaches and nightlife continues to grow, the town is slumping further into chaos, and the municipality wants something to be done about it. Mayor Barbara Pericleous told the Cyprus Mail that she has asked the House of Representatives to specifically amend the law governing the granting of licences for renting beach chairs until the year 2000.

    She said that the vendors want to put even more chairs on the already crowded beaches and that the result will be even more chaos and crowding than already exists.

    According to press reports, many people who go to enjoy a day at the beach are sometimes asked to pay for their chairs twice by different vendors. It seems that there are so many chairs, no one knows (or can remember) which belongs to which.

    There have also been complaints about the beaches looking messy and that noise from loud speedboats cruising along the shore is getting worse.

    Pericleous said that the House "has to look into the law again."

    More complaints have also surfaced with respect to noise pollution, especially at night. Apart from the booming bass blaring out of the night clubs, people have been soliciting tourists out in the streets, enticing them to visit their shops, nightclubs and restaurants.

    The soliciting of business is a nuisance for visitors, but authorities have been unable to stamp out this practice.

    Asked whether she had received any response from the government so far, Pericleous said that some officials have at least made preliminary calls about the possibility of amending the law.

    "We have nothing positive or negative," she said. Nevertheless, the mayor remains optimistic: "I will wait. I believe together we will find a proper way to use the beaches."

    [05] Two held after helping retrieve stolen goods

    By Staff reporter

    TWO MEN were remanded in custody for four days yesterday in connection with a case of burglary.

    The accused had helped a burglary victim buy back items that had been stolen from his house, before being arrested in connection with the burglary.

    Christakis Iacovou Andreou from Limassol and Christakis Anthias from Meneou were held in connection with a case of breaking and entering into Panayiotis Hadjiantonis' home on June 27 and stealing his passport, identity card and other personal items.

    According to the investigating officer, Sergeant Mamas Parpas, Hadjiantonis had testified that the two suspects visited him after the burglary had been commited. Anthias allegedly promised Hadjiantonis that he would get to the bottom of the mystery.

    Later that night Anthias and Andreou went to the victim's house and told him his documents were in the hands of a forgerer who was asking for 400 for their return. Hadjiantonis seemed reluctant to pay up, whereupon Anthias turned to Andreou and asked whether the forgerer could be persuaded to accept just 300. Hadjiantonis agreed and gave a downpayment of 120, the rest to be paid on delivery of the stolen items. Andreou returned the documents and on

    July 3, went to ask for the rest of the money. Hadjiantonis refused to pay up, accusing Andreou and Anthias of being the thieves.

    He report the case to the police and the two were arrested. A pair of binoculars that allegedly belonged to those stolen from Hadjiantonis' house were later found in Andreou's car.

    The suspects have denied the charges.

    [06] Kambos fire brought under control

    By Andrew Adamides

    Firefighters last night brought under control the bush fire which raged for most of the day in the Paphos region.

    According to the Forestry Department, the fire, which flared up early yesterday morning near Ippos in the Kambos area, was caused by the re- kindling of smouldering tree-trunks.

    A fire which had raged at the weekend appeared to have been brought under control by Sunday evening, but strong winds re-kindled the smouldering debris.

    Efforts to put out the blaze continued throughout the afternoon, intensifying as it spread out of control in the early afternoon, due to strong winds, and the inaccessible terrain. National Guardsmen joined the Fire and Forestry departments in the effort. Two helicopters from the British Bases were also deployed.

    One Forestry Department worker, Elias Panayi, 45, suffered burns at around 4.15pm near Kambos, and was airlifted to Nicosia General Hospital, from where he was transferred to Makarios Hospital.

    Police said the fire was finally brought under control at around 8.30pm. The blaze was then 8km away from Kambos village and firefighters were still struggling to contain it.

    A total of six fires broke out over the weekend, making it a nightmarish couple of days for the Fire and Forestry Departments. Four other firefighters were reported to have suffered burns, and 20 square kilometres of wildlife were destroyed.

    The largest fire broke out on two fronts in the Tillyria area Saturday night and was not put out until late Sunday night.

    Four villages in the occupied areas were abandoned during the fires. Authorities there once again turned down offers of assistance from the Greek Cypriot side. The extent of the damage was likened to the 1995 forest fire on the Pentadaktylos mountain range.

    On Sunday five new fires broke out - three in Lythrodontas and Analyondas, one near Ayia Napa and another near Trimiklini. These were smaller, the largest scorching one square km of shrublands. By midday all fires had been put out.

    Over 200 men of the Forestry Department battled the fires, aided by personnel from the Fire Department, the National Guard and civilians. Thirty fire engines and civilian vehicles were used, as well as helicopters of the local police and the British Bases.

    Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Costas Themistocleous, cancelled a scheduled trip to the United States and visited the Tillyria area, along with Chief of Police, Andreas Angelides.

    Themistocleous said yesterday that more organization in firefighting was needed, mentioning also that all helicopters need to carry special water containers.

    The government also said it was disappointed that the Turkish Cypriot side turned down its offer of assistance. It also denied allegations that the Greek Cypriots were responsible for starting the fires, which made headlines in the Turkish-Cypriot press.

    [07] Airline chairman denies nepotism allegations

    By Martin Hellicar

    Cyprus Airways (CY) and its chairman Takis Kyriakides came under fire at the House ethics committee yesterday over hiring and promotion procedures at the national carrier.

    Diko deputy Tassos Papadopoulos said he did not know how CY board members "could sleep at night" given the nepotism they indulged in. He said he had "reliable witnesses" who were willing to testify before the committee about appointments and promotions made purely on grounds of party and personal favouritism.

    He said company officials always said CY had nothing to hide but consistently refused independent inspection of its appointments procedure.

    "If everything was perfect as the company claims then they would be happy to see independent control, they wouldn't avoid it," Papadopoulos said. "I for one will never approve another loan or state guarantee (for CY) till the company decides to promote an independent body to oversee appointments and promotions."

    Kyriakides took exception to the procedure at the committee, claiming he and the company were being "put on trial without knowing the charges."

    Committee chairman Andreas Christou of Akel told Kyriakides he was out of line and that specific accusations would be heard.

    "I, for myself, can say nothing bad has happened at the airline, as far as I know," Kyriakides said.

    He also promised, under pressure from Christou and Papadopoulos, that any CY employee who did come forward with evidence of nepotism would not be victimised by the company.

    Disy deputy Lefteris Christoforou took Kyriakides' side, saying allegations "without proof or evidence" would harm the company "beyond repair".

    Papadopoulos tried to counter this attack by claiming he had evidence applicants with the right connections had been short-listed for Eurocypria pilot posts despite being rejected as unsuitable during the selection procedure.

    Christou backed this up by saying he knew of stewards who had had to change union to get positions.

    CY denied the allegations and reeled out lengthy accounts of the procedures followed for appointments and promotions as evidence of meritocracy.

    The chairman was repeatedly forced to intervene to stop Kyriakides as he tried to field questions by throwing questions back at deputies. "We're the ones who ask questions here," Christou told the CY chief.

    The debate is set to continue next week.

    [08] Defence Minister on official visit to Moscow

    By Andrew Adamides

    Defence minister Yiannakis Omirou leaves for Moscow today on a four-day official visit.

    The visit was announced at a press conference yesterday.

    Omirou said that in Moscow he would hold talks with his Russian counterpart Igor Sergeyev. However the much-talked about S-300 missiles will not be on the meeting agenda.

    Omirou also said there was a possibility Greece's Defence Mionister Akis Tzochatzopoulos would visit Cyprus on July 20 but no official confirmation had been received yet.

    The announcement of Omirou's visit came just days after Russian Ambassador to Cyprus, Georgi Mouradov, had given an interview to Turkish-Cypriot daily Kibris, in which he said no Turkish Cypriot, Turk, or property belonging to them would be harmed by the S-300 missile system, as it was purely defensive in nature.

    The S-300s would be used exclusively to defend Cyprus from an air attack

    Mouradov also pointed out that while Turkey objected to co-co-operation between Cyprus and Russia, the Cypriot government had voiced no objections to joint projects by Turkey and Russia.

    Neither the Cypriots, nor Greece, nor Turkey want a war to erupt, Mouradov concluded, adding that he "did not believe" Turkey would strike at the missiles once they had been deployed.

    [09] Cyprus Airways to cut fares and wages

    By Martin Hellicar

    Cyprus Airways (CY) is to reduce fares as part of its new strategic plan, the airline's chairman Takis Kyriakides said yesterday.

    "The aim of the strategic plan is to make us competitive. If we do not reduce our fares we cannot be competitive," Kyriakides said after presenting the strategic plan to the House Finance committee yesterday.

    He did not say which fares would be reduced, or by how much, but he said CY aimed to increase flights to Athens and Heathrow by the year 2000.

    Deputies were treated to an exhaustive explanation of the five-year plan, which aims to cut costs by 10 million by 2001 to get the national carrier back in the black. After encouraging results in 1994 and 1995, the airline registered a record loss of 5 million in 1996 and a deficit of just over 3 million last year.

    The plan's proposal for a three year wage freeze and a ten per cent pay cut for pilots and stewards has been less than warmly received by CY unions. But Kyriakides defended the cuts, saying they were the "least painful cost cutting measures ever proposed to workers by a company."

    He said CY labour costs - at 33 per cent of the airline's budget - were high and rising at a time when competitors were cutting their wage bills.

    The plan proposes employees be given a ten per cent share of profits and a share offer as a sweetener for the pay cuts.

    "The company wants to convince employees that it is their company too," Kyriakides said.

    He stressed the plan's proposals were "negotiable" and that the company needed to "adjust" if it was to survive in an increasingly more competitive air travel market.

    The plan also proposes a freeze in the wages of pilots working for CY's charter subsidiary Eurocypria. Kyriakides said another proposal was that top managers in the company should be hired on shorter, three to five-year, contracts to make them more "accountable".

    The plan aims to increase income by 22 million, to 162 million, by the year 2001.

    Kyriakides said the plan would be officially presented to unions today.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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