British military plane takes 1m euros to Cyprus

LONDON (AFP) - Britain sent a Royal Air Force plane to crisis-hit Cyprus on Tuesday carrying one million euros (S$1.6 million) in emergency loans for British military personnel, the defence ministry said.

The cash cargo flight was a "contingency" plan in case banks in Cyprus stopped giving out money as the island deals with the fallout from a controversial eurozone bailout deal, a spokesman said.

"An RAF flight left for Cyprus this afternoon with one million euros on board as a contingency measure to provide military personnel and their families with emergency loans," the spokesman said in a statement to AFP.

"The MoD is proactively approaching personnel to ask if they want their March, and future months' salaries paid into UK bank accounts, rather than Cypriot accounts."

The British government reaffirmed earlier on Tuesday that it would fully refund any military or government personnel whose Cyprus bank accounts were subject to an EU levy that was part of the bailout deal.

"We're determined to do everything we can to minimise the impact of the Cyprus banking crisis on our people," the spokesman added.

Britain does not use the euro, having stuck with the pound as its national currency.

Around 3,000 British troops are based at two military bases in Cyprus, which are used by Britain as a strategic foothold in the Mediterranean, with around 500 civilian personnel.