By Moutaz Ali.
Tripoli, 6 August 2016:
A Libyan shipping firm has begun freight and passenger services between Tripoli, Istanbul and Genoa.
Mithaq Marine’s Roll-on-Roll-off vessel Ammari arrived in Istanbul today on its first trip from Tripoli.
Using the 40 year-old Sierra Leone-flagged vessel, Mithaq plans regular runs to and from Turkey and Italy, company boss Osama Al-Alem told the Libya Herald.
“Initially we shall be doing three return trips a month to each destination” said Alem, “but we will increase that if the demand is there”. Both Istanbul and Genoa voyages will take around 72 hours.
Alem explained that the collapsing value of the dinar had meant air cargo rates had hit LD 13.5 per kilogram. Shipping on the Ammari cost LD 2 per kilo. He said he believed that the new service was competitive for all imports, including vegetables.
The vessel can also take 100 cabin passengers and has 30 lounge seats. The round trip Istanbul fare is LD 350 per passenger and LD2,500 for a car. For Genoa, the equivalent is €400 (LD 617 at official rate) and €850 (LD1300).
Alem said that visas for Turkey were still difficult for Libyans: “ We are negotiating with the Turkish authorities through our Turkish partners to organise online visa applications”.
He added that Italian immigration was only accepting Schengen visas and was insisting that, for security reasons, all passenger details should be sent to them in advance.
This article has been updated. The LD 350 price to Istanbul is for a round trip not a single fare.