Located off the south coast of Turkey in the eastern extremity of the Mediterranean Sea, the island of Cyprus is a popular destination among European holidaymakers. It has three main international airports, with the operations at one of these facilities being bound by a complex political situation. Let’s take a closer look at them all.
Located in the country’s southeast, Cyprus Inform notes that Larnaca Glafcos Clerides International (LCA) is the country’s largest and busiest airport. Before the industry-wide downturn caused by the onset of coronavirus, it was serving more than eight million passengers a year, with most traffic being seasonal. As pictured above, a wide variety of European airlines fly to and from Larnaca.
The facility opened in February 1975, and replaced Nicosia International (NIC) as Cyprus’s primary international air hub. Nicosia had ceased functioning as a commercial airport due to the Turkish invasion of the island the previous year. It was left derelict thereafter, resulting in scenes such as the one pictured below.
Despite, as Trellows notes, initially having a landing strip too short to serve jet aircraft, Larnaca’s runway 04/22 now stretches for 3,000 meters. This allows it to handle intercontinental traffic, such as, as reported by the New York Times, Gulf Air‘s non-stop flights to New York JFK. Larnaca also sees a degree of cargo traffic.
Paphos International (PFO) is Cyprus’s second-largest airport, and is ideally situated for tourists visiting the west of the island. It turned 40 years old this year, having initially opened back in 1982. Unlike Larnaca, it serves as a joint public/military airport, with Cyprus’s National Guard and Air Force also present. Furthermore, unlike Larnaca, it doesn’t typically handle cargo flights.
Pre-pandemic traffic peaked in 2019, when just over three million passengers used the airport, whose runway is 2,699 meters long. Due to the tourism-driven nature of flights to Paphos (and indeed Cyprus as a whole), many of these arrived and departed on flights that only operate seasonally, and/or on a chartered basis.
That being said, certain routes are served all year round, such as Aegean Airlines flights to Athens. Further afield, UK destinations have a strong year-round presence, thanks to carriers such as easyJet and Jet2. Meanwhile, Ryanair has a considerable year-round presence at Paphos, having opened a base there in 2012.
The third and final active commercial airport on the island of Cyprus is Ercan International (ECN). As Simple Flying explored in more depth in an article published earlier this year, this facility’s operations are restricted due to its location in the contested territory of Northern Cyprus. This includes the fact that only Turkish aircraft can fly there, as Turkey is the only country to formally recognize it.
It is also worth noting that the island of Cyprus is home to several military airfields. One of the most notable of these is RAF Akrotiri, which has been in use since it opened in 1955. According to the RAF, it houses two groups today: the No. 84 Squadron and the No. 903 Expeditionary Air Wing. Its runway is 2,785 meters long.
What do you make of the airports that serve the island of Cyprus? How many have you flown to or from in the past? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!
Sources: Cyprus Inform, New York Times, RAF, Trellows