Syria crisis travel advice: Is it safe to fly to Cyprus? - http://travelporn.info | luxury travel sitesApril 11, 2018 11:07 am
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Eurocontrol has issued guidance to airlines operating services to the popular holiday island off the western coast of Syria, stating that “flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean/Nicosia FIR area” could be affected.
“Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean/Nicosia FIR area,” the Rapid Alert Notification read on Wednesday.
The heightened state of alert comes as US president Donald Trump promised a “forceful” response to an alleged chemical attack in Douma, in the Eastern Ghouta region of Syria. British defence secretary James Mattis has cancelled travel plans for the week, while Russia warned against any “illegal military adventure” and said it would shoot down any US missiles.
Any Western air strikes would target Syrian government chemical facilities, said French president Emmanuel Macron, but the presence of missiles in the air would put commercial airlines in the region on high alert.
The Foreign Office has not issued any guidance with regards to Cyprus but warns against all travel to Syria.
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Airlines have long been avoiding the airspace above Syria, where a civil war has been raging since 2011. Though flights from the UK would have no need to fly over Syria, approaching from the west, Eurocontrol says airlines should prepare for disruption in the Nicosia sector, covering the skies in the Eastern Med.
Some 20 flights are due to the island on Wednesday, with British Airways, Thomas Cook and Jet2 all operating flights.
According to data from flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.com, all flights approaching Cyprus from the west were on schedule.
The site also shows how nearly all air traffic in the region is avoiding the skies above Syria. Aircraft leaving Middle Eastern cities such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi, heading to the UK or the eastern seaboard of the US, fly up and over the north-east tip of Syria.
It was only in November last year that international carriers resumed flights over Iraqi airspace, with Emirates the first airline to do so. The resumption of overflights cuts down on journey time for services that no longer need to fly via Saudi Arabia or Iran.
Middle Eastern politics has long been inconveniencing fliers. Flight times for a number of Qatar Airways services were extended last June when a diplomatic crisis in the Middle East left the Doha-based carrier unable to travel over Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
The distance from Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, and Amman, the capital of Jordan, is 192 miles as the crow flies. That’s around the same (a little less, in fact) as the distance between London and Manchester. Yet a flight from London to Manchester takes around half an hour, while the trip between the two Middle Eastern cities lasts up to 90 minutes.
That’s because airlines choose to avoid both Syrian and/or Israeli airspace. The circuitous Royal Jordanian route can seen below on FlightRadar24.com.
Numerous other airlines, for political and/or safety reasons, also shun the shortest route. El Al, the Israeli national carrier, routinely avoids flying over Arabic countries, which means more time in the sky for passengers heading east.
A number of carriers are still avoiding Ukrainian airspace after Flight MH17 was shot down in the skies above Donetsk.
In Asia, airlines leaving or approaching Seoul in South Korea avoid North Korean airspace.