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Cyprus President lays foundation stone of new Larnaca Airport
2006-06-23 12:03:16

Larnaca, Jun 23 (CNA) -- The President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos laid today the foundation stone of the new Larnaca Airport building, the construction of which is expected to be concluded in three and a half years.

?In 42 months from now we will have a new and modern passengers? building that will further contribute in many ways to Cyprus? development, offering the island a special place in the eastern Mediterranean region?, he said.

President Papadopoulos described this effort as the government?s most vital and prestigious project so far.

He furthermore noted that Cyprus, being an EU member state and a small island in a strategic region, a bridge between Europe, the Middle East and Africa, supports, to a great extent, its development as regards air traffic.

The President said that the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island not only resulted to great a tragedy and distress among the people of the island, but also caused the loss of the only airport then, the Nicosia Airport, that is now in the UN buffer zone.

?Seven months after the disaster, we built the Larnaca Airport as a temporary solution. The first year, 200.000 passengers used the airport and today, 31 years after, it serves around five million passengers a year?, he noted.

The President said that in the following three and a half years, more than 500 million euros will be spent for the construction of the first phase of the new airports of Larnaca and Paphos.

''By concluding the construction works, Cyprus? infrastructure regarding air transport will be in a very high level?, he noted.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Communication and Works Haris Thrasou described this day as a very important one for the island and said that after a negotiating process that lasted one and a half years, on May 11, 2006, an agreement was signed between the Republic of Cyprus and Hermes Airports Ltd company, that provides for the development and administration of the airports of Larnaca and Paphos for 25 years.

The project?s funding will reach 641 million euros and is assumed by Hermes Airports Ltd. The government will receive 33% of the gross income of the company and moreover an amount of 3.5 million euros every year, he added.

The Minister said that the area of the building to be constructed during the first phase will be 95,000 square metres and will serve 7.5 million passengers a year, while the next phase will increase the area to 112.000 sq metres with a capacity of 9 million passengers a year.

Chairman of Hermes Airports Ltd Nicos Shiakolas said that 6.000 employees will be working permanently at the new airports of Larnaca and Paphos, while for the next three and a half years around 2,000 people will be working for the construction of the terminal stations

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