By Ali Salem.
Tripoli, 22 November 2014:
The Libyan High Command today ordered the closure of airports and ports controlled by Libya Dawn, . . .[restrict]warning any vessel or aircraft using them will be considered a military target.
The House of Representatives threatened a shut down after Misratan forces said they would shoot down a plane carrying 26 of HoR members on a visit to Ghat three days ago.
The head of Operation Dignity’s air force in Benghazi, Saqr Adam Geroushi told the Libya Herald today that Tripoli’s Mitiga had been closed because foreign fighters were arriving there. He also said “We have ordered the closure of the ports at Zuwara, Misrata, Sirte and Ras El Hilal because ammunition and other supplies are moving through them”.
An official at Zuwarah airport has said it will be allowed to stay open for passenger flights only. This appears to have been borne out by another statement from Tobruk.
The situation is clearly confused. An official from one carrier working in Libya, who asked not to be named, told this newspaper: “We are taking this day by day. Airports were open this morning”
Indeed the albeit minimal movements in western Libyan airspace did seem to be continuing. The Turkish airlines fight to Istanbul THY646 took off from Misrata this afternoon as scheduled. A cargo flight from the Turkish airline ULS arrived in the morning from Istanbul.
An official at Mitiga said that today it was not operating, not because of the closure order “but due to some maintenance taking place in the airport in order to increase its capacity”.
Turkish Airlines, along with the three Libyan carriers, Afriqiyah, Baraq and Libyan Alines, have not yet responded to questions about their plans.
One person familiar with air transport said the problem was serious: “ It is not so much a question of a real threat that an airliner could be shot down. That would be insanity. However there is a chance that empty aircraft on the ground in airports could be targeted. That would have major implications, even if planes were flown out overnight to Malta or Tunisia. It would have major insurance implications”.
The Hassi government has said that it is not going to close airports. A spokesman for its Ministry of Transport said that the closure order was illegal and would be ignored. [/restrict]