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Court of Appeal rules out direct flights to northern Cyprus


The Court of Appeal on 12 October rejected an appeal by a Turkish airline which had applied unsuccessfully to the UK authorities for permission to operate chartered and scheduled flights direct from the UK to Ercan Airport in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.

Richards LJ (with whom Ward LJ and Sir David Keene agreed) held that such flights were prohibited by the Chicago Convention 1944.  Having analysed Articles 57-62 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and related principles of customary international law, the Court rejected the argument that the Republic of Cyprus's entitlement to exercise its sovereign rights in respect of northern Cyprus had been suspended by reason of the fact that it had lost effective control over that territory.  It also decided that the airline could not rely on the Namibia exception to the general rule that effect must not be given to the acts of unrecognised states.  The purported exercise by the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus of powers relating to international aviation therefore could not assist the airline's case.

The Court of Appeal described the issue as being of great political importance for both the Republic of Cyprus (which intervened) and the authorities of the TRNC.  In practical terms, the decision means that those wishing to fly to northern Cyprus from the UK must continue to change planes in Turkey.

The judgment is here.

David Anderson QC appeared for the respondent Secretary of State.