By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 28 April 2014:
Employees and security staff at Sebha airport as well as members of . . .[restrict]the local passport office took part in protests outside the court in central Sebha this morning demanding it be re-opened as soon as possible.
“The protest is basically urging the military authorities to provide much needed security in the area, so that the airport can be quickly opened again,” Sebha airport manager, Mohammed Owheda told the Libya Herald.
The airport was closed on 9 January, following communal clashes and then fighting between Qaddafi supporters and security forces.
There were hopes of reopening it in mid-January, but nothing came of them because of continuing insecurity.
“We are calling on the Third Forces [from Misrata] and the military authorities to impose greater security and control over the area surrounding the airport so that the flight paths are safe,” explained Owheda.
There have been a series of talks and negotiations over the past three months involving ministers and government officials from Tripoli attempting to urge those involved in the clashes to withdraw from their positions. A partial deal has been brokered, but not enough to ensure the reopening of the airport, located in an open area that could easily be affected by missiles and guns being fired.
“We need to establish a secure zone to resume flights, otherwise neither Libyan Airlines nor private pilots will risk lives,” Owheda said.
“The closure of airport has caused severe difficulty for traveller” he added, pointing out that the nearest functioning airport is at Obari, 180 kilometres south west.
After the closure Sebha airport and then the recapture of Tamanhint military airbase in late January, it was suggested by government officials that the latter could be temporarily used for civil flights but that has not happened. Apart from the air force, only official flights are allowed to use Tamamhint. [/restrict]