By Ashraf Abdul-Wahab and Naom Alkhoshi.
Tripoli, 17 July 2014:
All flights into the west of the country remain suspended as air . . .[restrict]traffic controllers continue their protest at the recent attacks at Tripoli International Airport. The headquarters of the Air Traffic Control is at the airport and the traffic controllers are refusing to go to work there.
Afriqiyah Airlines has called on the government and the Civil Aviation Authority to resolve the issue which it said was causing major problems for its passengers. It blamed the current crisis at Tripoli airport on the authorities which it said had not dealt with the situation.
The airline said passengers on one of its flights which had to be rerouted to Djerba because of air traffic controllers’ action had refused to board a bus back to Libya. The passengers were so incensed by their treatment because of the crisis at Tripoli airport that they have refused to leave the aircraft and have said they would only return by air.
Air traffic controllers in Tripoli are striking after the airport’s control tower was hit by a rocket during recent clashes. It is now reported that major damage has been caused to the departure terminal itself as fighting between armed groups on the premises continued into its fifth day.
Sources on the ground at the airport have said at least eight planes are showing visible signs of damage. The government has said 20 aircraft have been hit.
The source said of these eight aircraft two Libyan Airlines CRJ aircraft had had been hit, as had two Libyan Airlines 320 Airbuses. One Afriqiyah A330 Airbus had been badly damaged and a Buraq Airways plane, out of service at the time of the attack, had also been completely destroyed.