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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-03-29

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, March 29, 2001


  • [01] Thousands stranded as strike shuts down airports
  • [02] A strange story about artichokes, pilots and a minister leaving through the back door
  • [03] Boy of 17 arrested on suspicion of planting school bomb
  • [04] Government shows off Greek Bells
  • [05] Eurocypria has the least delays
  • [06] Organisers hail massive response to recycling plea
  • [07] 35 weekly flights to Russia
  • [08] Russian cabaret girl falls to her death

  • [01] Thousands stranded as strike shuts down airports

    By Jean Christou AT LEAST 12,000 travellers were stranded here and abroad yesterday as the island's two airports shut down during a civil service strike over plans for a national health scheme.

    The 24-hour strike, which started at 8am yesterday, will have affected some 115 flights to Larnaca and Paphos Airports by the time it ends this morning.

    Some 62 flights from Larnaca and 53 from Paphos, mostly UK charter flights, were cancelled.

    Forty of the cancelled flights belonged to Cyprus Airways (CY) and Eurocypria.

    Dozens of tourists who were not aware of the strike travelled to Larnaca early yesterday to find a deserted terminal building and their flights cancelled.

    They told reporters they had not been informed and several had even travelled by taxi from Limassol and Paphos. "We just can't understand why the taxi driver didn't even mention it and he could see we were going to the airport," said one.

    CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said they had managed to operate the Gatwick and Frankfurt flights before the strike began, and that Eurocypria had been able to leave for Dublin, but he said the remaining cancellations had affected 3,500 of their passengers.

    He said the strike would cost the airline hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost revenue and the extra cost of leasing planes, plus the accommodation of stranded passengers both here and abroad. "We also had some cancellations," he said.

    The company's contingency plan for today's backlog includes the leasing of four extra Airbus A310s to cope with the numbers and the combining of certain flights, such as Amsterdam and Paris, into one.

    "Under the plan, we will be able to carry all the passengers on Thursday," Angelis said. He said that all the airline's passengers had been told not to turn up at the airport yesterday and were informed of the new arrangements.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] A strange story about artichokes, pilots and a minister leaving through the back door

    By Jean Christou EUROCYPRIA pilots who went to hear a mediation proposal from Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas yesterday found him leaving through the back door with an armful of artichokes.

    "We went to the ministry at noon only to find the doors closed, but not because of the (civil service) strike," sources told the Cyprus Mail. "We found the minister in the back yard of the ministry carrying three artichokes and heading for his car."

    The pilots are angry at not being informed of the cancellation of the meeting. The said the Minister had told them that Cyprus Airways (CY) had asked that the presentation of the proposal be postponed until next week.

    It was widely believed that Moushiouttas had come up with a workable solution to the ongoing dispute between Eurocypria pilots and their CY counterparts from the PASIPY union over captain promotions in the charter firm.

    The pilots were told at the opening of mediation on Tuesday that Moushiouttas would present his proposal yesterday, but they believe CY asked for a postponement as PASIPY is due to hold elections for a new executive committee tomorrow.

    They believe CY does not want to jeopardise its good relations with the current PASIPY board and affect their possible re-election by rocking the boat on the thorny promotion issue.

    They also say the company was aware of the PASIPY elections 15 days ago and failed to mention any misgivings about presenting the mediation proposal at Tuesday's meeting. "They could have made the point then. It's ridiculous and irritating that PASIPY is still considered number one," said one Eurocypria source. "We are very angry and don't know how to react. We are not feeling cool and reasonable at all."

    Eurocypria pilots gave notice of strike action on March 2, when long- running efforts to solve the dispute reached another deadlock, but they later agreed to suspend measures to allow mediation by the Minister.

    Last Friday, they also agreed to suspend a decision banning Eurocypria pilots from flying with six CY colleagues who were seconded there last January.

    "It's a really bad situation, especially as we called off the measures last Friday," the source said.

    The pilots met later yesterday at their union SEK, but have not decided what their next move should be. "We want to cool down a bit first," the source said. "The company is obviously trying to buy time."

    Neither Moushiouttas nor CY representatives could be reached for comment yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Boy of 17 arrested on suspicion of planting school bomb

    By Martin Hellicar TUESDAY morning's pipe bomb attack at a Limassol secondary school was allegedly carried out by a student seeking revenge for his recent suspension from the school.

    Limassol District Court yesterday remanded a 17-year-old student from the Polemidia gymnasium for two days in connection with the bomb attack.

    Reports yesterday suggested the suspect had planted the bomb that went off in the school toilets because he was angry at being suspended by the headmaster.

    The 17-year-old bombing suspect was arrested late on Tuesday following a tip-off to police. Police yesterday arrested a second pupil, aged just 14, on suspicion of making the bomb used in Tuesday's attack. Police said the 14-year-old was later released to be charged at a later date.

    No one was hurt by Tuesday's explosion, but teachers and students at the school said it had been a near thing, as the home made bomb, placed in a cistern in the boys' toilets, went off during school hours.

    It emerged yesterday that the gymnasium had received an anonymous phone call warning of the bomb attack and that police had searched the school before the 10 am blast but had found nothing.

    Yesterday morning, the school received another telephone bomb threat. Students and teachers were evacuated as police scoured the school with the help of sniffer dogs but the call proved to be a hoax. Such bomb threats are nothing unusual at the Polemidia school, teachers said yesterday.

    Bomb attacks on cars and businesses are not uncommon in Limassol, but an attack on a school during school hours is unheard of. Teachers at the Polemidia school are demanding a 24-hour watch be placed on the school.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides yesterday promised that security cameras and private security guards would be brought in to protect schools.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Government shows off Greek Bells

    By George Psyllides DESPITE a plea by Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos to leave defence issues out of the election campaign, the government yesterday showcased two helicopters recently loaned by Greece to cover the island's needs after the funds for the procurement of its own means were voted down by the House.

    Members of the House Defence Committee, escorted by Hasikos and the media, visited the base outside Nicosia where the two somewhat battered Bell UH-1 helicopters were stationed.

    The Bells, dubbed Hueys by the United States military, were provided by Greece after the House failed to approve the funds necessary for the procurement of four new general-purpose Bell-412EP helicopters.

    The purchase of the helicopters was fiercely opposed by communist AKEL, which argued they lacked the necessary armour found in all military helicopters because of America's refusal to sell military hardware to Cyprus.

    Hasikos said the Greek Hueys were fully operational and could undertake search and rescue missions (SAR) immediately.

    "We have in this way to a large degree resolved our needs as a Republic and our obligations towards the European army," the minister added.

    Cyprus has pledged to the European force that it will carry out SAR operations in the area with four helicopters.

    The minister added that Cyprus had other means to complement the two aged Hueys.

    Sceptics, however, doubt that Cyprus has the capability to undertake large- scale SAR operations.

    The police's two helicopters are equipped for SAR, but experts say it is doubtful the Hueys have any night or bad weather SAR capabilities.

    The rest of Cyprus' air capacity are three Bell 206C VIP helicopters - two of which are painted in camouflage and carry rocket pods - and four SA-342 Gazelle helicopters equipped with HOT anti-tank missiles and night combat capabilities.

    There are also two PC-9 Pilatus training airplanes, and a BN-2 Islander belonging to the police.

    The government was forced to cancel the tender procedure and invite new tenders after Parliament refused to release the funds for the Bells, earlier this year.

    Hasikos has warned the House that the new tender could again be won by Bell Textron.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Eurocypria has the least delays

    By a Staff Reporter

    EUROCYPRIA has come out tops in terms of shortest delays among charter firms operating out of the UK, ahead of British Airways, Air 2000 and Virgin.

    A survey carried out by the Air Transport Users Council in Britain said flight delays were on the increase and passengers were being forced to suffer more and more.

    The average delay to charter flights in summer 2000 was 40 minutes, compared to 37 minutes in 1999, the survey said, while 18.5 per cent of charter flights were more than an hour late, compared to 18 per cent the previous year.

    The figures were based on analysis from the British Civil Aviation Authority and covered flights from April to October 2000 both in and out of nine UK airports.

    Eurocypria was considered the most punctual airline of 20 surveyed, with the fewest long delays, and only 10.8 per cent of its planes more than one hour late.

    British Airways clocked in second with 11.1 per cent of its flights more than an hour late; Air 2000 had 14.5 per cent and Virgin Sun 14.6 per cent.

    The worst airline was Icelandic airline Islandsflug, which operated 49.2 per cent of its flights more than an hour late and had an average flight delay of 119.7 minutes, nearly two hours.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Organisers hail massive response to recycling plea

    By Martin Hellicar THOUGH not without teething problems, the pilot recycling programme launched in five municipalities early this month is proving a huge success.

    "The response has been very good, much better than we expected," the recycling officer for Ayios Dhometios municipality, Demetris Kriftis, said yesterday. The Nicosia suburb is leading the way in the EU and government backed recycling scheme.

    Large plastic bins for paper, aluminium, plastic and clear and coloured glass have been placed in nine recycling 'islands', four of them at Ayios Dhometios and one each at Latsia outside Nicosia, Limassol, the Limassol suburb of Mesa Yeitonia and Polis Chrysochou.

    "Not only are people taking their paper and cans to the recycling bins but we are getting calls from companies and organisations that might have, say, half a lorry load of paper in their stores and they ask us to take it. So there is a response both from individuals and organisations," Kriftis said.

    But the pilot programme has in some ways been a victim of its own success, with paper bins in particular often filling up faster than they are emptied. A number of would-be recyclers have complained of taking their used newspapers and magazines to the recycling islands only to find the paper bin overflowing.

    Kriftis admitted the recycling programme still needed some fine-tuning: "We are coming across certain problems and obstacles. For example, the paper bins fill faster than the others."

    "We must sort out these problems because it is not nice to go to the place and find that because it is full there are five or six bags of paper or cans lying around. If we do not sort this out then our effort will backfire, we will have created a new Kotsiatis," the recycling officer said, referring to the island's largest landfill at Kotsiatis in the Nicosia district.

    Kriftis said the paper bins were being emptied every three of four days and urged the public not to leave large heaps of paper outside bins. "We gave instructions for people to call us if they have large quantities as these must go straight to recyclers," he said.

    Ayios Dhometios municipality will be reviewing the recycling plan's teething problems next Wednesday.

    The government hopes eventually to expand the pilot recycling programme, which is part-funded by the EU LIFE programme, so as to meet recycling targets set by the EU. To meet these targets, Cyprus has to recycle 30 per cent of its packaging waste by 2002 and 65 per cent of such waste by 2005.

    Cyprus has one of the highest per capita rubbish production rates in the world, some 500 kilos a year. Most all of this rubbish currently ends up in landfill dumps, many of them poorly managed.

    Your nearest recycling island

    Ayios Dhometios, Nicosia

    Primary School A - Kyriacos Matsis Avenue

    Primary School B - Kentavrou Street

    Primary School C - Junction of Pentelikou and Promitheos Streets

    Ayios Dhometios Gymnasium - Junction of Ayios Pavlos Avenue and Demokratias Street.

    Latsia, Nicosia

    Primary School and Gymnasium C - October 28th Street

    Mesa Yeitonia, Limassol

    Kalogeropoulou Gymnasium - Junction of Marcos Drakos and Mykinon Streets


    Tsirion Gymnasium - Thespios Street, Ayia Phyla

    Polis Chrysochou

    Marios Avenue

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] 35 weekly flights to Russia

    By a Staff Reporter

    THIS SUMMER, 35 flights a week will be operated between Cyprus and Russia, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    In a press release issued through the Cypriot embassy in Moscow, Rolandis, who is attending Russia's biggest tourism exhibition this week, said Cyprus currently hosted 14 per cent of all Russian tourists travelling to the Mediterranean.

    He said this figure could be improved with the new code-sharing agreement signed last week between Cyprus Airways and Russian airline Aeroflot, which will increase flights to 35 a week to Larnaca and Paphos airports.

    The deal aimed at providing CY with an opportunity to expand into the Russian market and also provides for the expansion of Aeroflot routes into the Middle East through Larnaca.

    The agreement will come into effect on May 1, when passengers will be able to book their seats to Russia with either CY or Aeroflot.

    The Moscow Tourism Fair is the fifth biggest in the world.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Russian cabaret girl falls to her death

    By a Staff Reporter A 21-YEAR-old Russian cabaret worker plunged five stories to her death yesterday morning in Limassol.

    Reports say she had been trying to escape from a room into which she had been locked.

    Oxana Rantseva fell at around 6.35am from a room in a block of flats at the junction of Karaiskaki and Stasinou streets.

    She had arrived in Cyprus on March 5 with a licence to work as an artiste at a Limassol Cabaret until June 8.

    However, according to a complaint made to police by her employer, she abandoned her job and accommodation recently.

    Police say they do not suspect foul play in her death, but unconfirmed reports suggest she had been locked in the room for several days and fell while trying to escape.

    An autopsy is scheduled for today. Limassol police were not available for comment yesterday afternoon.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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