Air-traffic controllers were striking way too much recently. Cyprus government took an unusually fast and serious action. They found a cure. Cyprus Mail reports:
The government bill, fast-tracked by the executive and the legislature working in rare unison, makes it a criminal offence for any ATC to refuse to work when required, and provides for penalties of up two years in prison and/or a fine of €2,550. The penalties are provided for under an existing law.
Given the economic downfall, unemployment rates, and the dependency of Cyprus on air traffic (being an island and a tourism attraction), I think this is reasonable and much needed.
Here is a mesmerizing video that I picked up at Pestaola.gr – 24 hours of worldwide air traffic compressed into a minute or so video. Look at the density of that! Consider the complexity of the underlying technology. Consider how many people are affected but all of that. And that’s not even all worldwide traffic, since some of it escapes the technology used for this research.
I came across an excellent article which compares ways airport security is handled in Israel as opposed to USA and Canada. Instead of being a yet another whine and complain about how bad things are there and how good they are over there, it does in fact illustrate the difference in approaches, as well as some of the things that people who are responsible for protecting the public have to think about. Here is a quote to get you started:
“I once put this question to Jacques Duchesneau (the former head of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority): say there is a bag with play-doh in it and two pens stuck in the play-doh. That is ‘Bombs 101’ to a screener. I asked Ducheneau, ‘What would you do?’ And he said, ‘Evacuate the terminal.’ And I said, ‘Oh. My. God.’
“Take Pearson. Do you know how many people are in the terminal at all times? Many thousands. Let’s say I’m (doing an evacuation) without panic — which will never happen. But let’s say this is the case. How long will it take? Nobody thought about it. I said, ‘Two days.'”
Another part that I sympathized a lot with was this:
“Do you know why Israelis are so calm? We have brutal terror attacks on our civilians and still, life in Israel is pretty good. The reason is that people trust their defence forces, their police, their response teams and the security agencies. They know they’re doing a good job. You can’t say the same thing about Americans and Canadians. They don’t trust anybody,” Sela said. “But they say, ‘So far, so good’. Then if something happens, all hell breaks loose and you’ve spent eight hours in an airport. Which is ridiculous. Not justifiable
So true! I’ve been thinking exactly the same a few times while watching fear-infested news coverages on mostly American TV (Europeans and Russians have it too, but to a lesser degree). Nobody can guarantee a 100% protection. A continuous effort should be made to ensure the best possible protection. Once everyone knows and trusts that everything that could have been done was done, they will calm down and relax. And even if something bad happens, people won’t overreact as they would know better.
Famagusta Gazzette reported on November 16th:
The new Paphos International Airport will be fully operational from midnight tonight, marking the end of flights to the old terminal.
Hermes, which manages the airports in Cyprus, announced that the new building covers 18,500 square metres and has the capacity to serve about 2.7 million passengers per year.
It has 28 check in counters, three luggage conveyor belts, four security arches, a VIP lounge and specially equipped lounges for businesspeople, information systems for passengers and parking places with a capacity of 800 vehicles. It is estimated that around 1,800 people will be employed.
I’ve been to the upgraded airport a couple of month before it was officially launched and I have to say that I was really impressed. It’s bigger, cleaner, better organized and equipped, and feels like a real airport. The one that was there before was more like a village utility building for accidental landings.
It’ll be interesting to see how the flight schedules and distribution will change, especially with Larnaca airport undergoing upgrade as well.