Page last updated at 11:11 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 12:11 UK

Bid over UK-Cyprus flights fails

Divided town of Famagusta, Cyprus
Cyprus has been divided by a UN-patrolled partition since 1974

An airline and tour operator have lost a legal bid to overturn a 35-year-old ban on flights from the UK to Turkish-held northern Cyprus.

Cyprus Turkish Airlines (CTA) and its UK tour operator, CTA Holidays Limited, failed to secure a judicial review at Birmingham Civil Justice Centre.

The government argues lifting the ban would contravene the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.

Currently, flights to northern Cyprus must land in Turkey first.

'Unlawful, unjust'

CTA, which flies about 100,000 visitors from the UK to Northern Cyprus each year, says this increases flight times, fares and fuel emissions.

But Mr Justice Wyn Williams dismissed the airline's call for a review.

CTA's lawyers had argued the government's continuing refusal to lift the ban was "unlawful and unjust".

Permitting direct flights between UK airports and northern Cyprus would have "huge, symbolic importance" for a divided island with a painful modern history, they said.

CTA argued the ban had "absolutely no operational justification".

It added the government had misunderstood the Chicago Convention and there was also no justification under international law for banning direct flights.

Also, it said the ban unfairly restricted Turkish Cypriots and their companies wishing to travel and conduct business with the EU and the rest of the world.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a military coup on the island which was backed by the Athens government.

The island was effectively partitioned with the northern third inhabited by Turkish Cypriots and the southern two-thirds by Greek Cypriots.



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