The Cypriot transport minister says the government will do whatever necessary to overcome a disembarkation ban by Moscow, while reports say Russian aviation authorities imposed the ban on Cyprus Airways over the company’s failure to provide a passenger list.
Cyprus Airways said on Monday that tickets for its new weekly flight schedule from Larnaca to Moscow’s Domodedovo airport were not available for sale after Russian authorities placed restrictions on the airline.
The airliner’s Chief Operations Officer, George Mavrocostas, was quoted in media saying Cyprus Airways were “extremely disappointed with the discrimination and unfair treatment by the Russian authorities,” while noting that two other carriers -Aeroflot and Pobeda- recently started operations on the Moscow-Larnaca-Moscow route “without having similar restrictions.”
Rosaviatsia said Cyprus Airways had failed to provide a list of passengers along with its request for permission to operate the first flight on November 19
“This violates the principle of equal treatment underlining the bilateral air services agreement between the Republic of Cyprus and the Russian Federation,” Mavrocostas said.
Cypriot Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos also weighed in, telling the Cyprus News Agency it appeared the decision was part of a package of measures Russia had taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
But according to Aviaport, the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency said Cyprus Airways had failed to provide a list of passengers along with its request for permission to operate the first flight on November 19.
No details were immediately known about the list or alleged lack of information about passengers, but reports said passengers at Larnaca International Airport were turned away half an hour before departure, with the empty plane taking off and landing in Moscow.
Flights between Moscow and Larnaca are scheduled by one of Cyprus Airways’ two Airbus A319, with the two planes making up the entire fleet after having been flown by Northwest Airlines and S7 respectively prior to arriving on the island.
Karousos told CNA that the Russia's Rosaviatsia informed Cyprus Airways by email that its aircraft could transport passengers from Russia to Cyprus but not vice versa, noting that Cyprus Airways planes would arrive in Russia empty in order to bring back passengers.
Knews understands inbound CA flights to Moscow with passengers could resume after the issues are resolved. A total of two empty flights landed in Moscow so far while a third flight is currently scheduled for Thursday.
An official from the Russian embassy in Nicosia told CNA that diplomatic efforts were on the way to help resolve the issue, while also noting that agreements with foreign carriers were being handled by aviation authorities in Moscow.