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North Cyprus flight changes ‘not ordered by UK’

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David Burrowes, Conservative candidate for Enfield North, said the flight changes were not requested by the UK government

Decision to take passengers off aircraft during Istanbul layover was taken by airline, David Burrowes says

Britain was not responsible for Pegasus Airlines’ decision to radically alter its flights between London and North Cyprus, a local Conservative candidate has said.

David Burrowes, who is standing for re-election as the Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate, told Haber on Wednesday that he lobbied ministers over the decision and found it had “nothing to do with the British government”.

He also dismissed rumours that the changes were imposed following pressure by a Greek Cypriot lobby as “fake news”.

Pegasus Airlines announced passengers flying between Ercan in North Cyprus and London Stansted airport will be forced to disembark and go through security again when their flight arrives for a short layover in Turkey, causing outrage among Turkish Cypriots living in Britain.

Chain of embargoes

Zehra Başaran, the Turkish Cypriot representative in London, told Haber the decision was “another link in the chain of embargoes imposed on the Turkish Cypriot people”.

“It is another hardship on a human level and the Turkish Cypriot people are complaining about this.”

Many elderly passengers who took comfort from remaining in their seats during the long journey to London will now no longer be able to travel at all, she added.

Passengers had previously been able to remain in their seats and wait for the aircraft to continue on its journey, but this system was abolished as of Thursday 1 June.

Confusion over responsibility

Flights between London and North Cyprus have always had to land in Turkey first because Britain does not recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and does not permit direct flights between the two jurisdictions.

But there is confusion over who gave the order for additional security measures during the Turkey stopover.

A statement published on Pegasus’s website said the move was the result of a decision by Britain’s “Civil Aviation Authority”.

But a spokeswoman for the UK Department for Transport contacted by Haber denied this was the case, saying: “This is a matter for the carrier, Pegasus.”

David Burrowes, who told Haber he had discussed the matter with the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, said new rules had been introduced regarding laptops in the cabin on flights originating from Turkey.

But he added: “The interpretation of it meaning that it should affect flights to Cyprus is the wrong interpretation and one that is the individual flights from Pegasus are responsible for. It’s got nothing to do with the British government or CAA and certainly not any lobby of any kind.

“There’s been some spurious suggestions there’s been a Greek lobby on this – that’s completely fake news and is a shame that it’s been brought into play when the source of this is a very genuine reason, which is security.”

Access to government ministers in cases like this is a reason why Turkish speakers should vote for Conservative candidates in next week’s general election, Mr Burrowes added.

Pegasus Airlines did not respond to Haber’s repeated requests for comment.