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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-03-20

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Thursday, March 20, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] CY suspends flights to the Gulf
  • [02] Inspectors to stay in Larnaca until at least next week
  • [03] Here comes the Denktash plan
  • [04] CY grilled over sale of aircraft
  • [05] Mayors demand extra benefits in line with deputies and civil servants

  • [01] CY suspends flights to the Gulf

    By Jean Christou

    Cyprus Airways (CY) yesterday suspended all flights to the Gulf in anticipation of a US attack on Iraq, and has made other changes to its Middle East schedule, chairman Haris Loizides announced yesterday.

    Loizides said the measures would remain in place until Sunday when the airline would review its position and could possibly cancel even more flights, he said.

    The CY chairman made the announcement after he briefed Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister George Lillikas on the airline's contingency plan.

    “All flights to the Gulf are suspended as of today,” Loizides said, referring to Jeddah, Riyadh, Dubai and Bahrain. He added that flights to Damascus, Amman and Tel Aviv would continue with some alterations that would not involve overnight stays by crews.

    British Airways led the way on Tuesday by suspending its flights to Israel, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, effective immediately. Most European airlines have also followed suit.

    Speaking after the meeting with Loizides, Lillikas said they had discussed alternative scenarios to extend flights to various tourist markets with a direct interest in Cyprus, saying it could help offset the negative implications of the conflict in Iraq if the war is prolonged. These would be destinations not expected to suffer from the conflict.

    Loizides said that in the meantime all flights were being monitored and that there had been a drop of 15 per cent in passenger movement so far this month. He said there had been no cancellations over the past 24 hours but mentioned a general decline in reservations.

    Commenting on the consequences of a war against Iraq, Loizides said CY had already drafted an emergency plan of action, similar to the one implanted after the September 11 attacks. He said the plan included the freezing of capital expenditure and new posts, possible suspension of seasonal workers and close observation of fuel prices.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, March 20, 2003

    [02] Inspectors to stay in Larnaca until at least next week

    By Tania Khadder

    UNITED Nations weapons inspectors and humanitarian personnel were yesterday awaiting further instructions after arriving in Larnaca on Tuesday morning.

    Speaking from his hotel in Larnaca, spokesman for the inspectors Hiro Ueki said, “for the time being, we will be here at least until mid next week,” and that the Deputy Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC would “come to Cyprus on Saturday and give us some instructions regarding our future”.

    He said the inspectors needed some rest, and that at this point “there is not much we can do other than wait and see”.

    He added that apart from Cyprus, there were inspectors waiting in Jordan and that all international staff was now out of Iraq.

    Asked about the looming US-led war, Ueki said, “The question of war and peace is not something we can ourselves handle, it is being dealt with at the highest political level.”

    He added that whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was “something we do not know even until this day”.

    Some of the inspectors expressed frustration that the inspection process had been cut short. “Our goal was to find something or to prove there was nothing. Our mission was not ended,” 38-year-old German inspector Bernd Birkicht said. “We pulled out and the people in Iraq have to suffer. I want to go back.”

    “We left Iraq with a sense of sadness and we are also concerned about our local staff that we have to leave behind and those who helped us,” Ueki added.

    “We made friends and worked with some of them. It is not a pleasant feeling to think that they have to go through a difficult time. Already they have been through a very difficult time and war is never pleasant.”

    Ueki noted that as the UN personnel left, “Baghdad was rather quiet, and I think these times they are preparing for war,” adding it may be “the calm before the storm.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, March 20, 2003

    [03] Here comes the Denktash plan

    By Jean Christou

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has come up with an alternative to the failed UN reunification plan, which is designed to move Turkish Cypriots closer to the EU.

    Newspapers in the north yesterday said the plan was to be discussed by the 'Cabinet' later in the day.

    Denktash's plan includes the abolishing of military service for Turkish Cypriots, allowing them freedom of movement within the Republic and in and out of the island through the Republic's ports and airports, encouraging them to seek EU citizenship and allowing them to conduct trade with the Greek Cypriots.

    The paper said the plan was likely to cause friction in the north because it would only apply to Turkish Cypriots and not Turkish settlers. The paper adds that Denktash was in fact dictating the solution he wanted to the EU.

    Denktash torpedoed the UN's reunification plan at The Hague last week when he refused to commit to a referendum.

    “With this plan Denktash is aiming at breaking the embargo applied to the Turkish Cypriots. He thinks that the Greek Cypriots government will oppose the application of his plan and thus violate the citizenship rights of he Turkish Cypriots by behaving in a prohibitive way and this will put the EU in a difficult situation,” Kibrisli newspaper said.

    However, the paper said the chance of the Greek Cypriot side opposing this plan was very small. “In this way Denktash will be applying a solution on all issues except those he does not wish to give concessions on. While the Turkish Cypriots will obtain all their rights, the Greek Cypriots will not be able to do the same. The issues of territory and settlement as well as the military issues will remain as they are today and the status quo will continue,” the paper added.

    “This manoeuvre is the greatest political manoeuvre of Denktash during the last years. The policy of the Greek Cypriots to acknowledge the Turkish Cypriots as their citizens will turn into a boomerang.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, March 20, 2003

    [04] CY grilled over sale of aircraft

    By Alex Mita

    CYPRUS AIRWAYS (CY) management was grilled by members of the House Watchdog Committee yesterday over the sale of four Airbus A310-200 aircraft, which according to the manufacturers are nearing the end of their shelf life.

    CY have signed a deal to sell the four aircraft to ILFC, the second biggest aircraft rental company in the world, at a cost of $43.5 million. According to CY, the sale of the A310s was part of the company's plans to renew its fleet by purchasing and leasing other aircraft. The overall plan brings the age of the CY fleet from an average of 20 years down to six.

    But AKEL deputies Kikis Yiangou and Stavros Evagorou were yesterday critical of the procedure the company followed for the sale of the aircraft, claiming CY did not sell the A310 at the best possible price.

    The deputies claimed CY did not follow the same procedures it did for the sale of three BAC-111 aircraft between 1994 and 1995, when they put out tenders in major international aviation magazines.

    But, according to CY Chairman Haris Loizides, the company acted under advice from Airbus on how to sell the aircraft.

    “We asked Airbus what the best way of selling the four A310-200 would be, to which they said, 'if you manage to sell those planes you deserve a medal, '” Loizides said. He added Airbus had not been willing to take in the aircraft as part exchange for CY's new purchases, saying they were obsolete.

    “Airbus told us that production of the specific aircraft, the A310-200, had stopped in 1988, and the manufacture of their engines was also stopped sometime after that, meaning that the plane and the engines had become obsolete, so we could not even sell them as spare parts,” he added.

    Loizides said Airbus had advised CY to try selling the aircraft to 12 companies, among which were Federal Express and TNT.

    “We put out tenders to 12 companies and sold the aircraft to the highest bidder, which was ILFC” he said. ILFC would also be leasing two A-330s to CY.

    But Yiangou insisted that that the sale of the aircraft was a raw deal, because CY would have to restore them to EU airworthiness standards before to delivery at an estimated total cost of over $20 million, meaning the selling price of the aircraft was in fact just over $20 million.

    Loizides brushed aside Yiangou's comments saying that in any sale, whether a car or a plane, the sold item had to be delivered in an operational state, adding that the aircraft would have had to be repaired anyway, whether they were sold or not.

    But the deputies claimed that Turkish Airlines had sold their A310s to an Iranian company for more money than CY did.

    However, Loizides said the planes sold by Turkish Airlines were a newer type of aircraft.

    “The production of the that specific aircraft stopped in 1998. Ours stopped in 1988,” he said.

    “Therefore the price that the Turkish Airlines sold their aircraft would logically be more than what we could manage, since our aircraft were older.”

    CY already received two 126-seater Airbus A319s last June, one A330 and another is expected to be received within the next few months.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, March 20, 2003

    [05] Mayors demand extra benefits in line with deputies and civil servants

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    DOES it pay to be mayor? Apparently not as much as it pays to be a deputy. According to sources, the Union of Municipalities is negotiating with the government to bring mayoral rights closer to those of House deputies and public servants.

    The government has refused to give mayors the duty-free car option that deputies and ministers enjoy, agreeing instead to give them a £5,000 tax- exemption on a new car.

    During a mayor's time in office, he or she has full access to a personal car paid by the municipality. According to reports, the Nicosia municipality has recently acquired a £23,000 Mercedes for incumbent mayor, Michalakis Zampelas, termed a bargain for such a luxury car.

    Also on the mayors' list of demands is a bonus similar to the one deputies get on leaving office. The government are currently discussing a bonus package for mayors leaving office equal to one month's salary for each year in office, but not beyond 10 years and above.

    The source said that mayors wanted to set down rights on pensions that would match the rights of other civil servants. This includes a minimum pension and the transfer of pension to widows and orphans in the event of death. A mayor collects his pension at 60, independently of any other pensions owed to him.

    Another issue concerning municipal leaders is health cover. At the moment, medical care is only offered during time in office. Mayors are arguing for the same rights as other public employees regarding medical coverage. They are asking for medical care to cover them and their families after they leave office.

    There are 33 mayors in Cyprus, but the above demands do not apply to mayors of occupied territories, nine in total. Mayors' wages for smaller municipalities start from around £600, while the big town mayors get a salary closer to those of deputies, around the £1,200 or £1,300 mark.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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