By Sami Zaptia.
London, 22 December 2020:
Malta has agreed to start issuing Schengen visas from its Tripoli embassy as well as direct flights to Libya and European capitals.
The announcement came after a meeting was held in Tripoli yesterday between Ahmed Maetig, Presidency Council Deputy, and Clyde Caruana, Maltese Minister of Finance and Labour.
discussed developing cooperation in the field of investment and development
The Tripoli Libyan government reported that the meeting, held at the Prime Minister’s Office, focused on reviewing relations between the two countries and the possibility of developing cooperation in the field of investment and development, agreeing to start granting European visas to Libyan citizens at the end of next January, and working on opening an air route between Valletta and Tripoli, Benghazi, Misurata “directly to a number of European capitals.
The meeting, which was held at the Prime Minister’s Office, focused on reviewing the relations between the two friendly countries and the possibility of developing cooperation in the field of investment and development, agreeing to start granting European visas to Libyan citizens at the end of next January, and working on opening an air route between Valletta and Tripoli, Benghazi, Misrata ‘‘directly to a number of European capitals’’.
Direct flights from Libya, by Libyan registered aircraft into European airspace are still under an EU embargo. The reference to direct flights into European capitals may be referring to the fact that Libya wants to technically circumnavigate this EU embargo by registering some of its aircraft in Malta. This would technically make them Maltese aircraft.
Libya and Malta, it will be recalled, had signed a Transport MoU on 28 October, which paves the way for this agreement. The MoU had specifically mentioned the re-registration of Libyan aircraft in Malta.
Wet-leasing and re-registering aircraft abroad
It will be recalled that since the EU flight ban, Libya has attempted to bypass it on numerous occasions by wet-leasing or registering aircraft abroad. It had wet-leased Georgian, Moldovan, Spanish and Tunisian craft.
Libya’s state Afriqiyah airlines had also successfully re-registered three of its aircraft in Ireland. The “Irish” Afriqiyah-owned aircraft were able to operate legally with the EU, slashing the far higher cost of wet-leasing aircraft and flight crew from other carriers.
The Tripoli Foreign Ministry spokesperson also revealed that flights to and from Malta would be possible thanks to an agreement by Libya and Malta to adopt a health protocol on the lines of the one adopted between Libya and Tunisia to facilitate the restart of flights and cross-land border travel.