Friday, 20 July 2012

Back to 1974: Nicosia's international airport

 An abandoned Cyprus Airways Hawker-Siddeley Trident (Picture: Dickelbers/Wikipedia)

Shortly after I posted this story about Vilnius being, possibly, the EU capital with the least air connections, Alex, a friend of mine from Cyprus, pointed out the existence in Nicosia, Cyprus, of an airport that has not been in use since 1974.

(Note: Nicosia's old airport is not to be mistaken with Cyprus main international airport at Larnaca, about 50km away, on the coast, an airport I had the chance to speak about a few months ago)

This story piqued my curiosity, fortunately a quick online search yielded some interesting results:

Nicosia's abandoned airport is just West of the city center, right in the middle of the UN buffer zone that separates the Greek and Turkish sides of the island. It is precisely this latent conflict that is at root of the current state of abandondment.

The airport itself was at the frontline in the summer of 1974 and was the episode of a botched attempt by Greek airborne troops to provide assistance to Greek cypriots during the fight.

Besides these tragic circumstances, Nicosia's old international airport offers a really fascinating glimpse of the World of air travel as it used to be in the 1970s. As it happens all along the buffer zone, time seems to have stopped in 1974, it is possibly the closest you can get to a time travel experience.

The wikipedia entry has some really stunning pictures (I repost a sample here), Cypriot photographer Andros Efstathiou is also exhibiting his work about the airport.

                                                         Airport fittings, 1970s-style (Picture: Dickelbers/Wikipedia)

For obvious reasons Nicosia's airport is currently off-limits to everyone but the UN troops that patrol de buffer zone, however, I think that, whenever the Cypriot conflict is resolved, if the airport is preserved and open to the public it will make a must-visit attraction for aviation enthusiasts from all over the World!

PS: If you like aviation history, you might check this other story about Belgrade's aviation museum!


Stephina Suzzane said...

Only the next few weeks will determine whether tourism will begin rebounding in late October or early November, or whether it is pushed into early next year.

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