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JOINT MEETING OF EB AND AC OF FSF-MED, HILTON PARK 17/12/2015
SPEECH BY THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CHRISTOS PETROU

Former secretary General of ICAO and dear friend Raymond Benjamin, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Members of the Advisory Committee , dear friends.

I would also like to welcome you at this annual event, which is the only one of its kind assembling together everybody who is involved in air transport in Cyprus: Ministry of Transport, former Ministers of Transport, civil aviation authority, airlines ,  airport operators and related services, regulators, the travel agents association , the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, handling agents, academic institutions, training organisations and of course collaborators from abroad.

As it was mentioned by Iacovos before, our Foundation does not have any executive or supervision powers .Our principle objective is to contribute to flight safety in Cyprus and the wider region.  This objective is achieved by raising awareness, educating and at times criticizing on aviation safety issues.

Nevertheless, based on the fact that we are located in Cyprus, our extensive experience and expertise and our international connections,  we consider it  inevitable that we should try  to extend our objectives beyond safety and initiate activities that facilitate  the development of air transport in general, regional cooperation, as well as to  provide service to the community we live in.

Based on this, in 2015 we implemented the following activities:


1) Sixth International Conference

 

This took place in May and the theme was on training “ Aviation training : an important tool for Safety”. It was co-organised with the Joint Aviation Authorities Training Organization, which is the biggest training organization in Europe and an affiliated body of ECAC and ICAO. And of course as always it was supported by the Ministry of Transport.

It was attended by 180 persons from Cyprus and abroad. There were 20 speakers, the majority of which from International and European Institutions,such as ICAO, ECAC, EASA, IATA, ACI and others.

The conclusions of the Conference were sent to all related organizations and circulated by ICAO to all its Members.

One of the main conclusions , was the need to create a collective body representing all the European aviation training and education Organisations.
 

2) Initiating the establishment in Cyprus of the “ European Federation of Aviation Training and Education Organisations 

Unlike other sectors of the air transport industry, such as airlines, airports,air navigation service providers e.t.c., the European aviation training and education organizations are not collectively organized in one representative Organisation.

Based on this, we as FSF-MED have taken the initiative to create  this new Organisation in Cyprus. Its main objectives is the promotion of aviation training in Europe and beyond, to represent all European training organizations and Universities related to aviation in international for a and to facilitate the interface between the industry and academic institutions. The potential Members


Over the last year, we have done a lot of work on this project, with the support of ECAC, JAATO and ICAO, as well as friends from abroad who helped us on this important issue. As always we kept the Ministry of Transport informed and we had its political support.

We are now at the final stage of the project. In fact yesterday we had the first meeting of the Founding Committee who approved the new Organsisation’s Articles of Association and name :  “European Federation of Aviation Training and Education Organsisations or in short EFATEO . This Committee consisted of several persons from Cyprus and abroad, including a representative of the Ministry, as well as a representative from JAATO, which as I mentioned before, is an affiliated body of ECAC and ICAO. The potential members are all European aviation training and academic organizations, training departments of airlines and airports, military air force academies , air navigation organizations, flying schools and others. Potentially the new Organisation may have as many as 150 Members.


he importance of creating this new Organsisation for aviation safety is self –evident. Especially for our country, this will be the first European Organisation based in Cyprus. This gives our country credibility and manifests its involvement and contribution to European structures.


3) Preliminary study for developing in Cyprus of an airport for general aviation and aerosport centre

 

When we speak about general aviation, what is meant is small or light airplanes,used primarily by flying schools , leasure and aerosport, such as parachuting, free diving, balloons,  e.t.c.

Before the closure of the Nicosia International Airport in 1974, this sector was well developed with many private pilots from abroad using Cyprus either as students to become pilots or persons who are involved in aerosports, due to the good weather conditions and other comparative advantages.

After a short period of using the Lacatamia airport, this airport was closed to non-military aircrafts, thus leading general aviation using the Larnaca and Paphos airports, but with several limitations , high costs and safety concerns for the big commercial airplanes.

Recognising the importance of the sector and the relevant limitations of the two main international airports, the Government through a Council of Ministers Decision in 1992, decided to buy land of some 600 acres in the Tseri area and earmarked a budget of 1 m. pounds for  the creation of a general aviation airport. The management of the project was delegated  to the Cyprus Athletic Organisation ( KOA) and the Cyprus Aerosports Federation.

The master plan of the project provided the use of the airport and its surrounding places by light aircrafts, aeroathletics, flying schools, aircrafts of the national Guard, the Police, the Fire Brigate, the Ministry of Agriculture, search and rescue,  and others uses.

Regrettably, a very small number of local land owners went to the Courts and obtained a restricting order for the project based of some technicalities, thus leading to its abandonment.

Since then and despite the fact that a lot of preparatory work was completed at a cost of more than 300,000 pounds, which amounts to more than half of the total costs for the completion of the project, the acquired land, which is owned by the State remains  unutilized and derelict.

Recognising the importance of such a project for the general aviation, the economic and tourism development of Cyprus, the creation of new job opportunities and the enrichment of the  tourist product , FSF-MED reinitiated the interest to this project ,based on its expertise on such issues.

To this effect, in coordination with the DG of the Ministry of Transport Alecos Michaelides, it prepared and submitted to the Ministry a preliminary study. At a subsequent meeting with Mr.Alecos Michaelides, the latter asked FSF-MED to prepare a briefing memo which would be submitted to the Council of Ministers for information as a first step, before a final decision is taken.

It is noted that such a project, will not in any way affect negatively the current airport operators, HERMES and SKYLINK, in financial or other terms. In fact the opposite may happen, since it will facilitate their operations as regards safety.


4) Seminars on the air transport professions and prospects of employment

In order to inform young unemployed and students on what are the various professions in air transport and the prospects of employment in Cyprus and abroad, FSF-MED organized three such seminars at Universities and Schools.

Given the high unemployment rate of young people in Cyprus, it is considered that such seminars are useful and important.


5) Seminar on Fear of Flying

This was organized in May with the cooperation of AEGEAN Airlines. And since we have with us today the Head of Safety of Aegean Mr. Christeas, we would like to thank him and ask him to convey our appreciation to the management of the airline for their support and excellent cooperation.

It was attended by a great number of persons who have a phobia for flying. At first sight, this may seem a not so important issue. Nevertheless, it is a serious problem that affects the professional and private lives of a lot of our fellow citizens. From the appraisal reports we received from those that participated, the seminar was a great success with most of them getting rid of their phobia. In the process, we believe that we helped the Airports and airline companies, since many persons who were not flying before , they are now doing so.


6) Supporting and participating in the Israeli FISHER INSTITUTE International Conference on civil aviation

 

The FISHER INSTITUTE of Israel, is a very powerful NGO having as its Members all the top retired officers of the Israeli air force and with accessibility to the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs.

Two years ago we signed with the FISHER INSTITUTE a MOC providing extensive cooperation. Based on this MOC, they participate and support all our Conferences and Seminars and they we reciprocate likewise. At their 7th International Conference in Tel-Aviv, attended by practically the whole of the Israeli aviation community and the Minister of Transport himself, as well as by several personalities from important international Organisations, we made a presentation and agreed further cooperative actions.

We consider that our close cooperation with this powerful Israeli NGO, is of particular importance given the strategic alliance of Cyprus with Israel in the energy sector as well as the wider relations of the two countries.


7) Signing a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Hellenic Aviation society

On the international relations front, FSF-MED signed an MOC with the Greek NGO “ Hellenic Aviation Society”, thus adding to the existing MOCs signed with the Government of Cyprus, CYTA, the Russian FSF, The Romanian Aeronautical Institute, and the Fisher institute of Israel .


8) Informing the Cypriot public through the mass media and Tv appearances as regards  accidents that happened in 2015 and explaining the potential dangers to civil aviation from the various conflicts and terrorist activities.

 

FSF-MED became a reference point to the Cypriot mass media and is frequently called to inform the Cypriot public on any issue relating to aviation, such as air accidents  e.t.c.


9) Providing advice to the Government of the aviation parameters relating to the negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem

 

Based on its expertise and knowledge of the legal and international aspects of air transport, FSF-MED contributed and made several inputs to the Government negotiation strategy as regards the ongoing negotiations for the Cyprus problem.

 

As regards 2016, we plan the following activities:


1) Seventh International Conference

As I mentioned before, the International Conferences are the flagship of our own and Cyprus's exposure to the international aviation community. It is therefore necessary to continue with them, provided of course we have the necessary financial assistance from our sponsors and especially the Government. The 7th International Conference is planned to take place in the Autumn. The theme will be decided shortly. 


2) Joint seminar with the Israeli FISHER Institute , regarding the “ Safety of off-shore operations and search and rescue”


As a result of our visit to Tel-Aviv, we agreed with the Fisher Institute and the Israeli CAA to jointly organise in Cyprus a regional Seminar on  «Aviation Safety for off-shore operations and search and rescue". This will be supported by the corresponding CAA and SAR Centres of Israel and Cyprus , as well as the Companies that are involved in gas explorations in the AOZ of the two countries. We consider that this is important, since we estimate that when all exploration platforms in the two AOZ are fully operational, there will be some 80 helicopter flights daily. Furthermore , the AOZ and FIR boundaries of the two countries do not coincide. Therefore some coordination is necessary since the airspace above some Israeli platforms belongs to Nicosia FIR. In addition we consider that joint activities like these strengthen the strategic alliance of the two countries in the energy sector and beyond.


3) Seminars relating to  Fear of flying and briefing seminars  air transport professions 

We intend to continue with these activities. We are certain that Aegean will continue to support us on the fear of flying seminars.  We believe also that the Ministries of Education and Labour should show more interest on the air transport professions briefing seminars.

A related activity that we plan,is to facilitate the introduction of aviation related courses to be taught at Universities in Cyprus. We had already some initial contacts with the University of Nicosia in this respect.


4) Establishing EATEO as a legal entity in Cyprus and organizing the first general assembly of the new organization.

Though a lot of work has been done to establishe EFATEO in Cyprus, there still remain a lot of activities to be completed until the new Organsisation is established and develop. The main priority is to complete the legal procedure in establishing it as a legal entity. Secondly there is a need to promote the Organisation and attract new members , as well as organising the first general Assembly sometime in June 2016.


5)    Processing the initiative for the development of the general aviation airport and aerosport center.

With regards to the development of a general aviation airport and aerosport centre, we shall continue to support the Ministry of Transport if that is required . It is stressed however that unless the legal /institutional complexities are resolved by the Ministry, nothing else can be done.


 6) Stand by to provide for any assistance to the President as regards political aspects of aviation and contacts with international organisations

As mentioned before, given the complexity of the aviation aspects as regards the ongoing negotiations for the Cyprus problem, we shall always be at the disposal of the President for any assistance we may provide.


CONCLUSION

We consider, dear friends, that the collective output of all these activities, meet fully our objectives, as outlined above. I am certain you all agree that the small size of our country, its being located in the periphery of Europe and the existence of its political problem, present certain constraints in organizing international events and implementing international and regional initiatives. Nevertheless we manage to overcome these constraints and placed Cyprus in the international map of aviation.

These activities , could not be implemented successfully, without the support of many organizations and persons. I take the opportunity at this point to express once more our appreciation to our sponsors, the generosity of which enabled us to have the necessary finance but also the motivation to continue. Though Iacovos made reference to these organizations in its welcome address, I would like to mention by name those that are with us today : Alecos Michaelides from the Ministry, Panagiotis Hadjipantelis and Wes Porter from Hermes, Dinos Lefkaritis and Demetris Mavromichalos from PPT Aviation Lefkaritis Group, Garet Coogan from CTC ARI, George Mavros from SKYLINK , Savvas Karvounis from Galatariotis Industries and Marios Eliades from Eliades Law firm.

We thank also all the Members of our Advisory Committee for their support. You may not get fully involved in our activities, but the mere fact that you belong to one of our governing bodies gives our Foundation credibility and it enhances its image in Cyprus and abroad.

We would also like to thank our international partners in the various International and European Organisations who supported us with their advice and guidance, as well as providing excellent speakers for our events. Two of them are with us today and I would like to thank them publicly. Raymond Benjamin and Andre Auer thank you for your valuable support!

Let me conclude my short presentation, by stressing that the air transport sector is for all countries, and especially for island states like Cyprus, an extremely powerful instrument of economic, social and political development . The average contribution of the sector to the global GDP is 4.3% , employing more than 70 millions persons and having a turnover of several trillions dollars. Is Cyprus able to develop its air transport sector and increase its GDP to that level, thus creating wealth and new job opportunities for our thousands of young unemployed? The answer is yes. With the right strategy, the necessary commitment and having the right people at the right place, the potential is there to be exploited. We as FSF-MED, are at the disposal of the State to make our contribution. Give us the support and the opportunity and we can add a lot of value on what the state is doing.

Thank you for your attention and I am ready to receive any questions or any remarks that may wish to make.


Award

Before leaving the floor, and before we conclude our proceedings with the short intervention by the former Secretary General of ICAO Raymond Benjamin, I would like to inform you that the Executive Board of FSF-MED decided to express its appreciation to our former Chairman Michael Constantinides by nominating him as honorary Chairman and presenting him with a commemorative plaquette.

As Permanent Secretary of the Ministry and subsequently as Chairman of FSF-MED until recently, Michael was instrumental in the creation and the development of our Foundation. I would also like to make special reference to Nicos Nicolaides, who as Minister of Transport at that time ,supported us in creating FSF-MED by presenting a proposal to the Council of Ministers and insisting that this is approved.


I call Raymond Benjamin to the floor to present this award.


 Benjamin


Our proceedings will now be concluded with a short address by Raymond. Raymond is a thoroughbred aviation man and was involved in international and European aviation at the highest level for many years, first as Executive Secretary of the European Civil Aviation Conference ( ECAC) and for the last 6 years as SG of ICAO , which is a UN Agency and  the highest international body of global aviation. We are honoured to have him as a personal friend, but also a friend of our Foundation and of Cyprus. 


Dear Raymond please come to the floor.