I finally got the chance to use the new airport at Larnaca last week. Ever since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 meant that the Nicosia airport was condemned into the demilitarised green zone that divides the airport, Larnaca airport has been the main Cyprus airport.
It deals with some five and a half million passengers per year, making it a larger airport than the facility at Paphos. Paphos airport
was also upgraded and reopened last year. The same construction company has dealt with the renovation of both airports, a French led consortium of companies known as Hermes. While Paphos airport looks nice and new, it is not much different from the airport it replaced in terms of facilities. Larnaca airport however is a whole new entity.
While I enjoyed the small size of the old Larnaca airport and its location near to a beautiful salt lake which fills with Flamingos over the winter, the new Larnaca airport is just down the road. Indeed the whole road system around it has been renovated to include an impressive roundabout and stretch of highway (by Cyprus standards).
The new airport only has one passenger terminal but is much larger than the old airport. It was enlarged to cope with an increased demand for tourism but this is probably the first major problem.
Just as Larnaca airport was in its final stages the world recession hit. Less people are flying at the moment and one of the main Cypriot airlines Eurocypria is in real trouble. I know because I was booked on a charter flight with them to Sharm el Sheikh for the Easter holidays but this was cancelled at the last moment. Despite it being Easter there was hardly anyone in Larnaca airport when I was there, going to my revised destination of Vienna.
That is a shame because I was impressed with what they have done. There is much more space where previously Larnaca airport could feel crowded. Once you have checked in the range of shops is excellent. There is duty-free shopping, places to buy cds and even a high brow New York apothecary which my fiancée assures me does excellent beauty products.
The food options are much improved. You can get freshly made Asian food straight off the wok and my personal favourite is the Upper Crust sandwich chain which used to keep me fed during many long rail journeys in England. If I have a criticism, we turned up for lunch at 12pm and the food was not ready yet, despite the fact that there were staff sitting around doing nothing.
They should realise that in an airport people want to eat at irregular times so food should always be ready. Someone should also tell the ladies who walk around doing customer surveys that it would not hurt to smile a bit, though generally the service was good.
The best part about the airport is that the prices are not as overblown as you come to expect in Cyprus. An Upper Crust baguette was only 5 Euros, about what it costs in England, though they could do with adding some extra sauce!
Another fantastic improvement is that it only took about 15 minutes for our bags to arrive, compared with an hour at the old Larnaca airport. I also took some pictures of all the car hire Larnaca airport desks that are on offer there.