Tripoli, 11 January 2015:
Libyan passenger airlines are being pulled in opposite directions by the country’s rival governments.
It is being reported that . . .[restrict]officials from the anti-government of Omar Al-Hassi in Tripoli are insisting that Libyan airlines flying to Istanbul from Misrata and Tripoli’s Mitiga airports must not land at Labraq or Tobruk for customs and passport inspection. These halts have been demanded by the internationally-recognised government of Abdullah Al-Thinni, but they can cause delays of several hours.
It has not been possible this evening to confirm either the instruction to ignore the Labraq or Tobruk landings nor the reaction of Libya’s four main airlines, Afriqiyah, Libya Airlines, Buraq and Ghadames Aviation.
The reason Libyan carriers originally submitted to the inspections was the threat that if they did not, the government in Beida would cancel their licences. This could produce a rapid shut down of the few remaining international services Libya carriers operate, principally to Istanbul, Khartoum and Tunis.
Afriqiyah Airways boss Abubaker Elfortia sought to sidestep the ban by wet-leasing two Georgian Airbuses for the Istanbul run. Because they were not Libyan, he told the Libya Herald, they would not have to abide by the government’s landing order.
There are also confused reports suggesting that two days ago, Turkey refused clearance for a Libyan Airlines plane to land at Istanbul. The aircraft had taken off from Labraq carrying wounded members of the Libyan army. It is not clear why the aircraft’s journey was blocked. The plane reportedly flew to Tunis. There, after six hours, another aircraft was chartered which was able to carry take the Libyan Airlines passengers to Istanbul. [/restrict]