in Cyprus Today – 23/6/2010

CHAOS REIGNS CTA flights grounded, leaving passsengers stranded, as airline misses debts deadline – Workers protests turn to violence, as Pegasus rescue fails to materialise – Confusion and chaos reigned yesterday as Cyprus Turkish Airlines’s aircraft were grounded and a proposed rescue deal by Pegasus failed to materialise. The Turkish Civil Aviation Authority announced it was suspending CTA flights for three months after the airline was unable to meet its $40 million debt repayments by Saturday’s deadline. One aircraft, due to leave Stansted airport on Monday evening, was returned to leasing company Turkuaz, because of unpaid debts. A 50/50 deal submitted by Pegasus airlines boss Ali Sabanci was due to have been signed at 10.00am yesterday after winning Cabinet approval on Monday but the deal has yet to be officially agreed, adding to the confusion about CTA’s future.

Prime Minister Irsen Kűçűk had told angry CTA workers who gathered outside the Prime Ministry he would make a statement about the airline at 2.00pm yesterday but failed to appear. A statement was made by Pegasus which stressed it was still talking with the government about the next step but that “vital information” was missing about any potential partnership.

It remains unclear how long CTA planes will be grounded, especially with the promise of investment from Pegasus but one industry source said it could be weeks before normal service could be resumed. To add to the problems CTA staff staged a shock strike, which meant passengers were left in the dark about when, or if their flights would leave and facing the prospect of staying longer in the TRNC. People flying to North Cyprus for holidays were also stranded.

CTA workers marched on the Ministry of Economy and Energy and then on to the Prime Ministry to demand details of the agreement with Pegasus. They then went to Ercan in a vain effort to stop other airlines flying out. Several people were injured, including one taken to hospital, as 200 riot police tried to stop the workers. There were several arrests.

Atlasjet which had been negotiating  with the government to take on CTA called for an auction of the stricken airline after it appeared to have lost out to Pegasus. The Turkish carrier then announced additional flights between Ercan and Istanbul “to alleviate the problems of the CTA passengers”. These would be on Wednesdays and Fridays from Istanbul and Thursdays and Fridays in the opposite direction.

Buran Atakan chairman of the Aviation Workers Union called for the TRNC government to resign over the mess it had made with CTA.

The Pegasus proposal is believed to have included the potential sale of CTA’s slots at Heathrow and the closure of its offices in Turkey and the UK. The airline would be renamed New Cyprus Turkish Airlines and 450 staff would be retained, with the remaining 137 transferred to Cyprus Aviation Services. A statement by CTA said it was trying to reach agreement with another airline to carry its passengers. It urged people to call 0216 444 5849 or go to www.kthy.net for further information.

Owners boost as auction blocked – Homeowners in Bahceli have managed to block an auction of their partly built homes next month. The 10 villas on the Topas Bay site were due to go under the hammer on July 4th but Girne District Court has postponed the auction. This is to allow people involved to challenge a previous ruling by the court for the auction to take place.

Buyers say meeting with bank is unfair – The Kulaksiz 5 homebuyers have rejected another “impossible” condition for a meeting with the bank that has bought their forcibly auctioned homes from under them. Buyers of the 10 bungalows have been told by Akfinans Bank that only one of them plus a lawyer, could attend a meeting at which two lawyers would represent the bank. Akfinans Bank also demanded each member of the group to sign a gagging order, which Bob French, one of the buyers says  is not acceptable. Mr  French said the buyers were now pinning their hopes on possible government action to stop their homes being sold by Akfinans Bank. The bank wants to push through the sale to recover the debt of almost 2 million tl, that is because of quarterly compound interest of 80% being added by the bank on the original 105,000tl loan. No repayments were ever received.

No quick fix to title deeds legislation – New laws allowing property buyers to get hold of title deeds before building work is completed are unlikely to go before the TRNC Parliament this year it has been claimed. Hasan Sungur  chairman of the Estate Agent Union said the draft legislation was “essential” for the TRNC. “The implementation of the legislation will prevent problems similar to those created by Gary Robb.” He said his only concern was how foreigners will get their title deeds without Permission to Purchase. He said unless PTP’s are granted in a shorter time, the legislation will not provide sufficient advantage for foreign homebuyers. The Ministry of Interior and Local Administrations said that the new legislation with regards to property ownership and administration would provide 100% protection to the buyer, but the Ministry will have no involvement in any dispute between the builder and the purchaser.

‘Acquit expat man and end this nightmare’ – Retired electrician Geoffrey Day has attended more than 40 court hearings since August 2008 after being accused of stealing from his TRNC builder, should never have faced criminal charges his lawyer has claimed. Last Thursday the first defence submission in the marathon case, Mr Day’s lawyer, Peyman Erginel told Girne District court he should have been acquitted due to lack of evidence, adding a tide of similar complaints could be triggered from aggrieved builders if her client were found guilty. Mr Day denies charges of theft and criminal damage and believes the real motive behind this is him with holding money for his villa which was not completed according to contract. The next hearing will take place on Wednesday June 30.

Christofias blames Eroglu for impasse – Greek Cypriot President Demetris Christofias  has poured cold water on the chance of peace being reached on Cyprus this year. Mr Christofias suggested that the new President Dervis Eroglu was to blame for the dip in enthusiasm for a solution. He accused Turkey of trying to “play the blame game” which included “efforts for strict time-frames and arbitration to be imposed”. He said this is a different leader with different options

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