By Libya Herald staff.
Malta, 8 January 2015:
Afriqiyah flight 972, destined for Istanbul, was . . .[restrict]forced today to return midway through its flight after Cypriot air traffic control refused to allow it to overfly its airspace, Afriqiyah reports.
The flight took off from Labraq airport at Beida, and was refused permission by the Cypriot authorities to over fly its airspace in implementation of the EU-wide flight ban on Libyan registered aircraft.
Flight 972 was being serviced by an Afriqiyah plane with a Libyan registration number, beginning with the number 5A. Other Afriqiyah craft registered in Eire or leased from other nations had been able to fly through Cypriot airspace.
The Afriqiyah statement seemed to suggest that the Cypriot authorities had previously allowed Libyan registered craft to fly through its airspace, as part of an agreement, but had now unilaterally cancelled the agreement.
In an attempt to relieve its capacity shortage, Afriqyah had in December leased two Airbus 320-200 aircraft from Dubai-based aircraft leasing and management company Aerovista. The two craft were actually supplied by Aerovista’s Georgian subsidiary and had been servicing Afriqiyah’s Istanbul and Amman routes.
It is now unclear what is the situation regarding Afriqiyah flights to Istanbul using either Libyan , Eire or Romanian registered craft and weather Afriqiyah flights would have to take the very long route round European airspace. Today, Afriqiyah has announced that its evening Istanbul flight has been postponed until tomorrow.