TRIPOLI, 13 December 2011: (Reuters) – Libya’s air traffic controllers staged a strike on Tuesday that affected flights . . .[restrict]in the capital and other cities, forcing one passenger plane to be diverted shortly before landing, aviation officials said.
Libya has been trying to return to business as usual after a civil war that toppled longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi. But security problems and chaos still disrupt transport.
Air traffic controllers walked off their jobs on Tuesday morning because they were unhappy about the appointment of new management, an aviation source said.
The strike affected airports in the capital Tripoli, the eastern city of Benghazi, and Sabha in the south. It was not clear how many flights overall were affected, but several international airlines fly into Libya daily.
Mukhtar Al-Akhdar, commander of the militia unit that controls Tripoli International Airport, said flights resumed after 4:00 p.m. (1400 GMT), and that no civilian aircraft had been allowed to land or depart before then.
“A Tunisian airliner which was coming … to Tripoli today, they couldn’t receive it,” he said. “The tower told the pilot and he flew to Djerba (in southern Tunisia, near the border with Libya).”
The controllers failed to give airlines the required 72 hour notice about the strike, and aggravated its impact, said Abdelrezzaq Zaatout, head of Libya’s civil aviation authority.
After negotiations with management, the workers agreed to go back to work, he said.
“They will come back to their jobs and their demands will be met,” he told Reuters, without elaborating.
Last month, Tunisia’s state carrier briefly suspended flights to Tripoli after a group of protesters, some of them armed, went onto the tarmac at the city’s Mitiga airport and prevented a Tunisian jet taking off for several hours.
Tunisia has also closed its two main border crossings with Libya, saying Tripoli was failing to control unruly militias in the area.