You can legally get to Cyprus either by arriving at the international airports of Larnaca and Paphos, or by sea through the ports of Larnaca, Limassol, Latchi and Paphos.
Any other border crossing points are considered illegal and violators face criminal penalties!
But are there only 2 airports on the island?
No. Let's figure it out.
All airports of the island of Cyprus
Acting civil airports of the Republic of Cyprus
• Larnaca International Airport – Glafkos Clerides (Διεθνής Αερολιμένας Λάρνακας) (on the map)
Larnaca Glafkos Clerides International Airport (IATA: LCA, ICAO: LCLK) is the main international gateway to Cyprus and the largest of the two commercial airports in the territory controlled by the Republic of Cyprus. It received its modern name in 2016 in honor of the former president of Glafkos Clerides (1993-2003), whom the main economic successes of the Republic of Cyprus are associated with.
The airport opened on 8 February 1975, on the site of an old British airbase. It replaced the Nicosia International Airport, which had ceased to operate after the Turkish military invasion of northern Cyprus in July 1974.
Due to the growing popularity of Cyprus as a tourist destination, the airport's passenger traffic has steadily increased. It exceeded by 1998 2,500,000 passengers per year, for which the airport was designed, since that moment the infrastructure and the terminal complex have been constantly modernized.
In 2006, the Hermes Airports consortium, established by French, Cyprus and Canadian companies, acquired a 25-year concession to operate the international airports of Larnaca and Paphos and invested € 650,000,000 in their modernization.
On November, 7, 2009, a new state-of-the-art passenger terminal opened at Larnaca Airport, designed by the French architectural company Aéroports de Paris in cooperation with Sofréavia.
The terminal has 16 gangways, 67 check-in counters, 8 self-check-in kiosks, 48 boarding gates and 2,450 parking spaces. Restaurants, cafeterias, bars, duty free and gift shops. There are service areas for privileged passengers.
The passenger terminal is designed to service up to 7,500,000 passengers per year. However Larnaca International Airport had 8,229,346 passengers in 2019.
The old airport complex is a port for cargo and private planes. There are also places for light aircraft flight schools and private business jets. Its geographical position between Europe, Africa and the Middle East makes it a convenient hub for traffic and flights between these destinations.
Larnaca Airport is connected to all cities of the island by comfortable expressways and is located at a distance of:
- 6 km from Larnaca city center
- 48 km from Ayia Napa
- 53 km from Nicosia
- 77 km from Limassol
- 148 km from Paphos
- 185 km from Polis
An intercity bus service is organized from the passenger terminal. The airport houses the offices of all renowned car rental companies.
• Paphos International Airport (Διεθνές Αεροδρόμιο Πάφου) (on the map)
Paphos International Airport (IATA: PFO, ICAO: LCPH) is the second largest and passenger traffic in Cyprus. Opened in 1983 to reduce the load on the Larnaca airport and improve the service for tourists visiting the west part of the island.
Located near Paphos (6.5 km southeast of the city), in the suburb of Mandria. Initially it used the infrastructure of the nearby Andreas Papandreou airbase. But already in 1988, it was necessary to expand the runways, build new terminals and improve taxiways.
When the airport was taken over by the Hermes Airports consortium under a concession agreement with the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, passenger traffic had already reached 1,700,000 per year. A new modern passenger terminal with 28 check-in counters, 7 boarding gates and 22 aircraft stands, a bank, restaurants, cafeterias, bars, a duty-free shop and souvenir shops was launched in November 2008. There is also an area for servicing privileged passengers.
The passenger terminal of Paphos airport is designed to service up to 2,500,000 passengers per year. However it had 3,044,402 passengers in 2019.
Satellite image of Paphos International Airport
Paphos airport also has parking for light-engine aircraft and private business jets.
The airport is especially convenient for passengers traveling to the west and south of the island of Cyprus, to Paphos, Polis, Limassol and their surroundings.
The airport has regular bus connections to the harbor and center of Paphos. There are also direct buses to Polis, Limassol, Larnaca and Nicosia.
Distance from the airport to the cities of the island:
- 14 km - Paphos
- 51 km - Polis
- 67 km from Limassol
- 137 km - Larnaca
- 147 km - Nicosia
- 179 km from Ayia Napa
Most of the car rental companies operating on the island have offices at the airport.
• Nicosia International Airport (on the map)
Once the main and only civil airport in Cyprus was Nicosia International Airport (IATA: NIC, ICAO: LCNC).
The airport ceased activity in July 1974 when Turkish troops occupied 2/5 of the island's territory. Located 8.2 km west of the capital of Cyprus Nicosia in the suburb of Lakatamia.
The Nicosia airfield was built by the British colonial administration in the 1930s and was used primarily as the RAF Nicosia airbase.
American bombers landed here, returning from the bombing of the Romanian oil fields during the Second World War.
The British Air Force abandoned the use of the RAF Nicosia base in 1966 due to the increased intensity of civil flights, and on March, 27, 1968, a new modern passenger terminal was opened, designed by the West German company Dorsch und Gehrmann from Wiesbaden. Almost half of the construction cost was paid by Great Britain as the territory of the airport still belongs to the British Ministry of Defense.
The new terminal could simultaneously have 800 passengers, and the apron could have up to 11 aircraft. In June 1974 it was planned to expand the terminal and increase the apron to 16 aircraft, of which two seats were to be reserved for wide-body aircraft.
Satellite image of Nicosia International Airport
But unfortunately, this was not destined to happen...
The last commercial flights from the airport took place in 1977 under a special UN permission, when three of the remaining Cyprus Airways planes stuck there after the 1974 invasion were repaired by British aviation specialists and taken to London. One of these, the Hawker Siddeley Trident 2E, is now on display at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford.
Nicosia International Airport currently has been abandoned for many years in the neutral zone separating the North and South of Cyprus (the so-called Green Line). The UN troops guard it. Some of its buildings are used as the headquarters of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
• Marki Airfield (on the map)
A mini-airfield with a 250-meter runway south of Nicosia is intended for ultra-light aircraft. Perhaps most Cypriots do not know about this place.
Marki airfield. Photo: Nikos Karapatakis
Highway Strips in Cyprus. Didn't know about these?
In Cyprus, in addition to many helipads, there are also highway strips. Many people regularly drive along them in their cars, unaware of their dual purpose. They are straight sections of highways with reinforced road surface, there are no power lines nearby, instead of concrete dividers, removable steel structures. If necessary (for example, an emergency landing), they can quickly make here full-fledged airfields.
- One of the airfields on the highway, located near Kofinou (Κοφίνου)
- The second is near Kornos (Κόρνος)
- The third is in Kouklia (Κούκλια) near Mandria.
Air connections between Northern Cyprus and mainland Turkey
• Ercan Havalimani Airport - (Ercan International Airport) in North Cyprus (on the map)
Ercan International Airport (IATA: ECN, ICAO: LCEN) is the air gate of the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Air traffic from here is possible only through the airports of Turkey. Passengers from other countries are forced to use connecting flights, heading first to Istanbul or Ankara and only then to the north of Cyprus.
The foreign passports of travelers arriving on the island through Ercan airport do not have a mark of arrival on the island, therefore, when trying to cross the "Green Line" dividing the island, tourists are arrested by the border service of the Republic of Cyprus for attempting to illegally enter the territory of the island. At best, they are threatened with deportation at their own expense, but they also can get a real prison sentence and / or pay a large fine.
Ercan Airport is located about 13 km east of Nicosia, near the village of Kırklar.
Due to the lack of direct international flights and the inconvenience, most Turkish Cypriots have obtained passports of the Republic of Cyprus and prefer to use the International Airport in Larnaca "Glafkos Clerides". Obviously, this option is not available for immigrants from Turkey and foreigners who do not have entry visas for the Republic of Cyprus.
Originally on the site of Ercan airport was the British military airfield Tymbou, built during the Second World War. Ercan Airport had until recently a 2.5 km long runway that was insufficient for large aircraft to take off and it could have only 7 aircraft at a time. Work is now being completed to increase its runway to 3.2 km.
A new apron with 9 ramps and a parking lot for 12 aircraft is under construction. The building of the passenger terminal is being expanded and modernized, 60 check-in counters, 20 passport control points, 26 X-ray machines for arriving luggage and 24 for departing luggage are being equipped. A covered parking lot for 1.5 thousand cars and an open one of the same capacity are under construction. The total cost of the modernization project is € 300,000,000.
It is planned to increase the airport's capacity to 4.2 million passengers per year, with the possibility of increasing it to 5-7 million or even 10 million if direct international traffic is opened. Now 5 Turkish airlines operate and fly from 8 cities of Turkey to the north of Cyprus.
Military airfields in Cyprus
• British Air Base and Akrotiri Airport (RAF Akrotiri) (on the map)
Royal Air Force Akrotiri (IATA: AKT, ICAO: LCRA) is a large Royal Air Force base located near Limassol in the British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus. The base was built in the mid-50s of the twentieth century, during the aggravation of the situation around the Suez Canal.
Since then, the airbase is used by NATO air forces for reconnaissance, combat and rescue operations in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. The Red Arrows joint aerobatic team of the RAF regularly trains here.
Satellite image of RAF Akrotiri airbase
There are passenger flights from Great Britain to Akrotiri and backward at least once every 2 days. These flights are considered domestic as they operate within the territory of a sovereign state of Great Britain.
• British Kingsfield airbase in Cyprus (on the map)
Kingsfield Airfield (IATA: KIN, ICAO: LCRE) was built in the British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus at Dhekelia in 1960. Now its 1250 m long runway has been used for exercises by the British Army Aviation, as well as for recreational flights and parachute jumping.
Satellite image of the British Kingsfield airbase
The parachute center provides experienced instructors for those wishing to take lessons, as well as tandem skydiving for beginners. The center is open on weekends all year round. Advance booking required.
• Turkish Air Base and Geçitkale Havaalanı Airport
The military airfield Geçitkale or Lefkoniko Airport (IATA: GEC, ICAO: LCGK) was built in 1982 by the Turkish military and has a runway length of 2850 meters. During the forced renovation of Ercan airport in 2002-2004, it served as the main civil airfield in Northern Cyprus. Since 2000, it has not been used for military purposes, now it is formally owned by a private person, but from December 2019, Turkish reconnaissance and combat drones are based here, covering Turkish ships from the air, conducting exploration for hydrocarbons on the shelf of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Turkish UAV of the Bayraktar TB2 type over the Geçitkale airfield. Photo: DHA
• Turkish base aérea İlker Karter
A Turkish fighter airbase with two intersecting airstrips, has not been used for its intended purpose for a long time. The base is located near Pınarbaşı in the northwest of Nicosia.
Satellite image of İlker Karter airbase
Now the headquarters of the 11th corps of the Turkish army is located on the territory of the airbase.
Surprised?! Such a small island and so many airfields?
That's why Cyprus is sometimes called the unsinkable aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean!