The president of the Republic of Cyprus flew back to Larnaca on Monday following a private plane incident in New York, while political opponents are seeking clarification over his travel arrangements.
On Saturday, a private jet with President Nicos Anastasiades onboard was forced to make an emergency landing in New York, where he had gone to attend the UN General Assembly. The plane turned back to JFK airport after a windshield crack in the cockpit was deemed a safety issue.
Following the news, political opposition raised questions over the president’s travel arrangements and called for more transparency.
AKEL party MP Irene Charalambides called on the administration to identify the owner of the private plane in case the flight was not chartered by the Republic of Cyprus.
Anastasiades was criticised in the past for using private jets owned by wealthy businessmen
Another member of the leftist opposition party, Christos Christofides, raised additional issues.
“Wishing the president a safe and speedy return. His travel arrangements and his safety remain a public affair. Details ought to be forthcoming in the name of transparency,” he wrote on Twitter.
Anastasiades was criticised in the past for using private jets owned by wealthy businessmen, including a private aircraft loaned by a Cypriot entrepreneur in Britain and one of three luxury jets owned by a Russian billionaire rumoured to have been a client at the president’s former law firm.
In response to the criticism, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said a private airline was chosen based on lowest cost among a number of options.
“The company was selected through a bidding process,” Prodromou said.
The company, which remained unnamed, also assumed all costs associated with the unscheduled return flight that brought the president back home according to Prodromou, who landed at Larnaca International Airport early Monday morning with the president, first lady Andri Anastasiades, and Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides.
Other members of the Cypriot delegation were scheduled to fly back, possibly Tuesday, on the private jet following a windshield repair. Prodromou said the President had to be back in time for Tuesday's Independence Day celebrations.
Pakistan Premier flies commerical following plane incident
Media sources reported that another head of state had a similar incident in New York. A plane carrying Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had to return to New York following an electronics-related glitch that made the flight problematic.
Pakistani officials said that Khan was prepared to catch commercial flight back home in case the problem could not be fixed by next morning.