09 March 2014 08:44

Cyprus' Communications Ministry is working with Eurocontrol to form an independent company to manage air traffic control, the House Communications Committee heard.
Communications Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos briefed the committee on issues related to the Civil Aviation department including operation, staffing and flight safety, while committee chairman Antonis Antoniou pointed out that there are many serious problems which must be handled as a whole.
According to Antoniou, discussions to reorganise the Civil Aviation department are underway and the ministry is in direct contact with Eurocontrol to form the independent company that will control air navigation. The authorities of the Civil Aviation department will be limited to licensing, certification, training and supervision.
Antoniou mentioned that almost all of the 39 country-members of Eurocontrol have created independent companies responsible for air traffic control and expressed the committee's concern over the delays in Cyprus airspace which are due to the operation of the Civil Aviation department, at a time when there are 280,000 airplanes and 20 million passengers.
"It is alarming because Turkey is trying to take advantage of this weakness and attribute some kind of role to the illegal control centre in Tymbou," Antoniou said.
The committee also examined the evaluation of the public transportation system and Antoniou said that despite this being the fourth year of the system's operation there are still big problems such as strike threats from employees due to delays in payments from the ministry to the various bus firms.  
In addition, the advisory transport committee which should have been formed in 2012 to evaluate the system, suggest solutions to problems and inform the public has still not been created.
Public transportation is currently only used by 4% of the population compared to 2% in 2010, noting just a 2% increase in four years.
Commenting on school bus fares, Antoniou said that the ministry has issued a decree to enforce the new legislation from April 1 and the price of the monthly ticket has been set at €10. He added that each school will be responsible for supplying free tickets to students from needy families.
Akel MP Andreas Fakontis said that there has been a 40% drop in the number of students who use school buses and called on the government to revisit the issue as there are families who cannot afford the fees.


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