The legal action brought by Cyprus Turkish Airlines (CTA) to challenge the ban on direct flights to northern Cyprus will be heard this Monday, May 18 in the Administrative Division of the High Court.

CTA and its UK tour operator, CTA Holidays Limited, is suing the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to compel it to lift the ban on direct flights between UK airports and northern Cyprus, which has lasted 35 years.

Currently, CTA, together with all other airlines, must land in Turkey en route both to and from northern Cyprus. This increases flight times, airfares and fuel emissions, but has absolutely no operational justification.

CTA claims the ban on direct flights to and from northern Cyprus is both unlawful and unjust. Recent legal advice seems to bear out CTA’s claim. Two eminent QCs have already stated that there is no legal reason why the UK should not allow direct flights.

The UK government has repeatedly said that it is in favor of direct flights if permitting them is consistent with its obligations in international law. Yet, all CTA’s applications to restore direct flights have been refused, on the grounds that this would be contrary to the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.

CTA’s position is that the government has misunderstood the Chicago Convention or its impact on the legality of direct flights, and that the government should, therefore, grant their applications.

The ban on direct flights to and from northern Cyprus has long been a contentious issue. In a recent debate (on July 5, 2006) in the House of Lords, the government stated: “We continue to support in principle the commencement of direct flights to northern Cyprus. We believe direct flights between the UK and the north would contribute significantly to the prospects for reunification.”

However, since this statement was made, no progress at all has been achieved in restoring them. (CTA flies around 100,000 visitors from the UK to northern Cyprus each year).