While Cyprus Airways followed other airlines and cancelled two flights to Tel Aviv on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry confirmed no Cypriots had sought assistance in leaving Israel.
Many US and European air carriers halted flights to the Jewish state yesterday citing concern over a militant rocket from Gaza that hit a house near Ben Gurion airport. Israel urged a re-think, saying its air space was safe.
Announcing the cancellation of its own flights, Cyprus Airways said flight CY1428 from Larnaca to Tel Aviv and flight CY1429 from Tel Aviv to Cyprus had been cancelled, adding that, depending on developments, they might be rescheduled for Thursday. The airline said affected passengers would be kept informed.
Eight other flights between Larnaca and Tel Aviv by Israeli airlines El Al and Arkia continued as normal on Wednesday and a Cyprus Airways flight for Thursday morning remained on the airports’ list of upcoming flights.
A Foreign Ministry official on Wednesday told The Cyprus Daily that no Cypriots had requested assistance to leave Israel.
“In any case, it is my understanding that the Israeli airlines are continuing their flights as normal and these cancellations are likely to be short-term,” he said, preferring not to be named.
Hermes Airports PR and Communications Manager Adamos Aspris said Larnaca and Paphos Airports were prepared to act as safe havens and assist other airlines choosing not to land in Israel.
“In the unwelcome instance of an increase in conflict in the Middle East, the Republic of Cyprus’ international airports are ready to respond to any increased demand and, once again, be a safe haven in the region,” Aspris said.
In a written statement, he said a flight from Brussels had touched down in Larnaca on Wednesday night instead of its Ben Gurion airport original destination. The flight soon after continued on to its original destination.
An industry insider said it was too soon to tell how the Gaza conflict would impact Cyprus’ tourism.
Asking not to be identified, he said: “It could go either way. On the one hand, people planning to visit the Holy Lands may choose to come here instead. Others, particularly those who have not been to Cyprus before, however, may be put off by our proximity to the Middle East.”
A larger impact, he continued, could be felt from a fall in Israeli visitors, many of whom take cruises to Cyprus and visit and shop.
The official noted Cyprus was also a popular civil wedding destination for Israelis. “Whether their habits change or not all depends on how the situation develops in their country.”