Diplomatic Mess Averted As Qatar Jets Land in Larnaca
A messy diplomatic incident was narrowly averted today as two Qatari jets on their way to take part in a military operation in Libya were allowed to set down at the old Larnaca airport after authorities initially refused landing permission.
The planes were eventually allowed to land at around 9am due to fuel shortages, said government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou.
Two Mirage fighters and a transport plane refueled and then continued on their way towards Libya via Crete at around 3.40pm. The aircraft are part of a US-UK led coalition to enforce a no-fly zone.
Cyprus and Qatar have been negotiating on a lucrative, multi-million euro deal to build a luxury retail and leisure complex in Nicosia, which would have been a good reason to allow the jets to land without permission problems. But Cyprus has said it wants to stay out of the war in Libya because of its relations with other Arab nations in the region.
In a face-saving comment, Stefanou said that due to international laws, the Civil Aviation authority "was forced to grant permission to land and refuel."