Larnaca International Airport
Larnaca International Airport – Glafcos Clerides
Διεθνής Aερολιμένας Λάρνακας
Larnaka Uluslararası Havaalanı
|Operator||Hermes Airports Ltd|
|Serves||Larnaca, Limassol, and southeast Nicosia|
|Location||Larnaca District, Cyprus|
|Elevation AMSL||3 m / 7 ft|
Larnaca International Airport – Glafcos Clerides[a] (IATA: LCA, ICAO: LCLK) is an international airport located 4 km (2.5 mi) southwest of Larnaca, Cyprus. Larnaca International Airport is Cyprus' main international gateway and the largest of the islands' two commercial airports, the other being Paphos International Airport on the island's southwestern coast.
Larnaca Airport was hastily developed towards the end of 1974 after the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey on 20 July of the same year, which forced the closure of the Nicosia International Airport. The site on which it was built (near the Larnaca Salt Lake) had been previously used as an airfield[which?] in the 1930s and, subsequently, as a military installation[which?] by British forces. Larnaca International opened on 8 February 1975, with only limited infrastructure facilities and a prefabricated set of buildings comprising separate halls for departures and arrivals. The first airlines to use the new airport were Cyprus Airways, using Viscount 800s leased from British Midland, and Olympic Airways, using NAMC YS-11s. Initially, the runway at Larnaca International was too short for jet aircraft.
On 19 February 1978, Larnaca Airport was the scene of the Egyptian raid on Larnaca International Airport: a 1-hour gun battle between Unit 777, an Egyptian military counter-terrorism force, who had raided Larnaca International, and the Cypriot National Guard.
The crisis had begun the previous day, when Youssef Sebai, editor of a prominent Egyptian newspaper and friend of Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat, was assassinated at the Nicosia Hilton hotel by two gunmen as he was preparing to address the Afro-Asian Peoples' Solidarity Organization (AAPSO) conference being held at the hotel. The gunmen, a Jordanian and a Kuwaiti, opposed to the Sadat regime, took 50 hostages among the conference attendees, including two representatives of the PLO who happened to be attending the conference. Non-Arab delegates and women were released shortly. Yasser Arafat, with the Cypriot president's agreement, dispatched an unarmed force of 16 to assist with negotiations and any possible rescue operation.
Through negotiations with the Cypriot government, the two attackers were allowed to board a plane to escape with their 15 remaining hostages, including the two PLO hostages. They forced the plane to approach several countries including Libya and Syria but each time their request to land was refused, so after refueling in Djibouti, the plane was forced to return to Larnaca Airport. Egypt then dispatched its entire antiterrorist squad aboard a C-130 Hercules to deal with the hijacking; however, they did so without the knowledge or consent of the Cypriot government.
On landing in Larnaca, the commandos launched an all-out assault on the DC-8, even as Cypriot negotiators had secured the hostage-takers' surrender. Cypriot President Spyros Kyprianou and other senior officials observing the events on site were forced to retreat from the airport control tower after it was hit by bullets. Eventually the Egyptian commandos surrendered to the Cypriot forces. The two hijackers were persuaded by the British pilots to give up. The hostages exited the aircraft unharmed once the shooting was over. The Cypriots counted eight wounded. 15 members of the 74-man Egyptian Unit 777 died. President Kyprianou offered reconciliation and apologies, but maintained that Cyprus could not have allowed the Egyptians to act. Egypt and Cyprus each withdrew their diplomatic missions, and frosty relations between the two countries persisted for some time. The two hijackers were condemned to death by a Cypriot court, but the sentence was commuted by Kyprianou and the hijackers released.
The status of Cyprus as a major tourist destination means that air traffic has steadily risen to over 5 million passengers a year. This is double the capacity the airport was first designed for. For this reason, a tender was put out in 1998 to develop the airport further and increase its capacity (see below). Already completed elements of the expansion include a new control tower, fire station, runway extension, and additional administrative offices. The surrounding road network was improved by upgrading the B4 road and by completing the A3 Motorway. A new junction has been constructed near the new terminal. The new terminal was built some 500–700 m (1,600–2,300 ft) west of the old terminal, adjacent to the new control tower, with new aprons and jetways. The old terminal building is slated to be partially demolished and refurbished as a cargo centre, and is currently used as a private terminal for visiting heads of state, VIPs, and private aircraft operators.
The airport's geographic location in-between Europe, Africa, Russia and the Middle East facilitates it as an airline hub for traffic and flight operations between these locations. It currently holds domestic, regional and international passenger and cargo services by over 30 airlines. Notably, Gulf Air used to provide a non-stop service to New York-JFK twice a week.
The airport has one primary passenger terminal. Departures are accommodated on the upper level, while arrivals at the ground level. A second "VIP terminal" also exists, which is used for visiting heads of state, some private aviation, and for cargo. The airport utilises a single large apron for all passenger aircraft. The concept architectural design of the passenger terminal was developed by French architects at Aéroports de Paris (ADP) with Sofréavia in France.
A €650 million upgrade of the Larnaca and Paphos airports was completed in 2006. The international tender was won by Hermes Airports, a French-led group. The consortium is made up of Bouygues Batiment International (22%) Egis Projects (20%), the Cyprus Trading Corporation (a local retail group-10%), Iacovou Brothers (a local contractor-10%), Hellenic Mining (10%), Vancouver Airport Services (10%), Ireland's Dublin Airport Authority (Aer Rianta International) (10%), Charilaos Apostolides (a local construction company-5%) and Nice Côte d'Azur Airport (3%). Hermes Airports built new passenger terminals and plans to extend the runways at both airports under a 25-year concession.
A new terminal building opened on 7 November 2009. It has 16 jetways (boarding bridges), 67 check in counters, 8 self check-in kiosks, 48 departure gates, and 2,450 parking spots. The new terminal can handle 7.5 million passengers per year. Infrastructure also features a large engineering hangar, a cargo terminal, and separate facilities for fuelling and provisioning light aircraft. There is a second, smaller apron where cargo aircraft and private aircraft are often parked. There are also spaces for smaller aircraft for flying schools and privately owned aircraft separate from the main two aprons.
Airlines and destinations
The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Larnaca:
- ^1 Kuwait Airways flight to Larnaca makes a stop in Beirut on the inbound flight only. The airline, however, does not have fifth freedom rights to transport passengers solely from Beirut to Larnaca.
The airport can be reached by car, taxi and public transport system. There is a shuttle bus system from/to Limassol, Nicosia, Protaras, Paralimni and Ayia Napa. Local buses are available at the airport to various locations in Larnaca.
Incidents and accidents
- On 13 October 1977, Lufthansa Flight 181, flying from Palma de Mallorca to Frankfurt, with 91 passengers and crew was hijacked by four Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) members, and was diverted and landed in turn at the airports in Rome, Larnaca, Bahrain, and Dubai. The Boeing 737 was then forced to fly on to Mogadishu Airport, Somalia, where a West German antiterrorist squad stormed the plane, killing three hijackers, arresting one and rescuing all passengers. The captain of the flight had previously been murdered by the lead terrorist.
- On 5 April 1988, Kuwait Airways Flight 422, a Kuwait Airways Boeing 747, was hijacked, while en route from Thailand to Kuwait. After forcing the plane to fly to Iran, the hijackers forced the crew to fly the plane further west to Algeria, but the plane landed in Larnaca for refuelling. Two Kuwaiti hostages were murdered by the hijackers and their bodies were thrown out on the airport's runway. The Cypriot authorities managed to release 12 hostages in exchange they agreed to resupply the plane with jet fuel. The hijacking ended in Algeria on 20 April 1988.
- On 29 March 2016, EgyptAir Flight 181, operated by Airbus A320-232 SU-GCB, was hijacked whilst on a Flight from Borg El Arab Airport to Cairo International Airport. The aircraft landed at Larnaca. The hijacker claimed to be wearing an explosive belt, but it was later revealed to be fake.
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Media related to Larnaca International Airport at Wikimedia Commons