Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 12 January 2015:
Turkish Airlines, which defied the risks that caused all other international carriers to scrap their services . . .[restrict]to Libya, has severed its last link with Libya Dawn’s two airports at Misrata and Tripoli’s Mitiga. It has now cut its cargo service just a week after stopping its twice-daily Istanbul passenger flights.
An employee at the airline’s Istanbul cargo department this afternoon spoke to the Libya Herald and confirmed social media reports that the airline would no longer be accepting cargo charters to Misrata. He described the suspension of the link as temporary but said no one knew when flights might be resumed. He did not know if insurance was the main for the flights being stopped.
The state-owned Turkish national carrier had, along with three other cargo airlines continued to serve Libya after August’s violent division. The carriers had been earning what one Libyan manager described as a “very satisfactory living indeed”.
There have been three dedicated cargo lines involved. Global Aviation, which has run flights with a Boeing 747 freighter from Ostend in Belgium to Misrata, as well as ULS Air Cargo and MGN which have offered charters largely between Istanbul and Misrata. Last November a spokesman for ULS told the Libya Herald. “We have been flying to Libya for six years and it is a very good market for us.”
Today it also became clear that Libyan Airlines and well as Afriqiyah were prepared to flout the government demand that flights from Libya Dawn-held territory to Turkey must stop for government inspection at Labraq or Tobruk.
A Libyan Airlines flight from Misrata this morning flew to Istanbul without stopping, albeit following an eastward route along the North African coast before turning north off the Egyptian coast to head toward Istanbul, slipping between the EU airspace of Greece and Cyprus, where Libyan carriers are forbidden to fly.
Yet also today a Libyan Airlines flight took off from Labraq for Tunis. Among the passengers was a further batch of soldiers injured in the fighting in Sidra, Benghazi and Derna.
If the government carries outs its threat to withdraw the operating licences of local carriers who refuse to comply with its inspection order, then it would appear that this Tunis and other flights from government territory would also have to be stopped.
If however if, as has been reported, the Turkish government is seeking a rapprochement with the government in Beida, shutting down any Libyan airline could be avoided. Ankara may be prepared to ban from Turkish airspace any Misrata or Mitiga originated flights that do not stop in Labraq or Tobruk for inspection. It was not possible to confirm tht Turkish Airlines is said to be planning to restart passenger flights flying to Labraq from Istanbul. [/restrict]