The airport where time stands still
It’s hard to believe an international airport can really ever become dormant. Their locations are well considered and generally form the backbone of the international travel network. As the modern world continues to expand these important hubs are increasingly growing in size.
Nicosia on the other hand didn’t start its life as a commercial airport. Constructed in the 1930s, its initial purpose was to support the Royal Airforce (RAF). On 27 March 1968 a modern new terminal, designed by the German company Dorsch und Gehrmann from Wiesbaden, and built by Cybarco, was opened, at a cost of £1,100,000 sterling. This new terminal was intended to give the airport a bright future, and should have helped the tourist industry grow significantly.
Sadly, this was never to happen: on 15 July 1974 right wing Greek nationalists overthrew the democratically elected president of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios. Nicosia Airport was briefly closed by the nationalists in an attempt to tighten the strain on the local government. They also used the location as a means of ferrying troops in and out of Greece.
The airport did reopen briefly on the 18th of July to allow some civilian traffic in and out, but this just created chaotic scenes as many foreign nationals desperately tried to leave the island. Then on 20 July 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus, bombing the airport heavily and forcing its permanent closure.
The airport experienced some of the most brutal fighting during the conflict, which resulting in the United Nations Security Council stepping in. They declared a 500 metre controlled buffer zone separating the two communities on the island, which rendered the airport inoperable.
The last flight left the airport in 1977, and all that remains is a single damaged Trident 2 aircraft. Despite some plans for the airport to reopen, with assistance from the United Nations, neither the Greek nor the Turkish Cypriots have seriously pursued its repurposing. It looks as though the airport is likely to remain trapped in time for a long time to come.
Image By Dickelbers – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0