By Al Russell.
Tripoli, 7 August:
Afriqiyah Airways has ordered two new Airbus A330-200 aircraft at a cost of $626 million. Initially, it . . .[restrict]had ordered t three A321 aircraft. However, it has opted instead for two of the larger, twin-aisle models, at roughly twice the price.
The company already owns two A330-200s, however they have been grounded at Bordeaux Mérignac Airport since before the revolution. It also has an order for three of the larger A330-300s. All five aircraft are expected to be delivered next year.
The airline’s desire for new aircraft suggests that it is planning to expand its operations, having suffered a set-back earlier in the year when Libya decided on a self-imposed ban on Libyan aircraft flying to European Union countries. The ban is continuing.
Imposed on both Afriqiyah and Libyan Airlines, it related to the expired certification of flight-deck crew, maintenance staff and ground crew, and has meant that both airlines have resorted to leasing aircraft and crews from other carriers to continue their European operations on a reduced scale. Afriqiyah has ‘wet-leased’ (aircraft and crew) an Airbus A320-200 from Air Moldova, and another from Tunisian airline Nouvelair.
In May 2010, an Afriqiyah Airways A320-200 crashed on approach to Tripoli International Airport killing 103 passengers and crew. The only survivor was a 10-year-old Dutch boy.
Earlier this year the government announced plans to merge Afriqiyah and Libyan Airlines, and it bought all shares in Libyan Afriqiyah Aviation Holding Company, of which both airlines are subsidiaries.