What is the future for the Libyan Aviation?

Libya,a once promising Maghreb nation with one of the highest standards of living in Africa, once gain finds itself branded an 'international pariah' and at the center of a brutal civil war with no end in sight after the very ill advised bombing campaign led by NATO supposedly to prevent a 'bloodbath' in Benghazi.One of the sectors that has suffered is the country's aviation sector. 

Decades of sanctions had prevented Libya from gaining access to new aviation technology at competitive prices.But the US took Libya off the list of state sponsors of terror allowing the country to ressurect its aviation industry which rapidly took off with the opening of new routes in Africa ,Asia and Europe.The Libyans could once again acquire Boeing Aircraft and there was even talk of launching direct flights to the United States.The Libyan aviation professionals had high expectations as Tripoli and Washington moved to restore diplomatic relations.Afriqiyah Airlines chairman Captain Sabri Abdallah had said following the restoration of ties:"And don't forget we use Tripoli as a hub for the rest of Africa so we could use the Afriqiyah flights to the US to extend our network of operations,"

Libyan Airlines:Formed in 1965
But in March this year,the Libyan airspace was closed off as soon as the UN resolution 1973 was passed that imposed a no-fly zone over Libya and all the dreams are now turning to dust.The Libyan government owns two international airlines, both operating as the national flag carriers of Libya. Libyan Airlines began flying in October 1965, but was forced to cease its international routes in 1992 due to international sanctions imposed by the United Nations. The U.N. sanctions were eased and Libyan airlines were allowed to fly internationally again.In early 2001, the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, having made his peace with West and buoyant about African Unity and the prospect of the United States of Africa facilitated the formation of Afriqiyah Airways, which started flying in December 2001.
Founded in 2001,Afriqiyah Airways:The Airline for the United States of Africa?
Given that Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways are both owned by the Libyan African Aviation Holding Company, both airlines serve international destinations throughout Asia, Africa and Europe, with overlapping routes, including major destinations such as London, Rome, Milan, Jeddah and Dubai

There had been considerable talk about the merger of Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways to create a mega Libyan carrier, dating back to 2009.  The Libyan Government was expected to approve the merger of the two airlines by the 15th of October 2010, however internal politics seem to have interfered with the merger of the two carriers.

Both Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways fly modern fleets, both airlines have orders with Airbus for new aircraft capable of serving destinations in Africa,Asia, the Americas and Europe.  The two airlines also share a hub in Tripoli; the airline fleets have aircraft commonality and combined the airlines have the potential to spend US$5.6-billion on new aircraft over the next two years.

Back to Year Zero 

Libyan civil aircraft bombed by NATO
Now Libya finds itself back to where it all started with its aviation infrastrucutre and some of its passenger airlines destroyed by NATO;some of the Libyan Airlines staff have joined the rebels in their bid to capture power by armed force and with NATO about to step up its ill advised bombing campaigns and France and Britain arrogating themselves illegal mandates in order to save face,the prospect of a Tripoli aviation hub serving a Pan African market appears dimmer.

IATA too suspended dealings with Libya to comply with the UN sanctions.In an email,the body said:
"Due to Governmental sanctions directly affecting IATA that prevent us from having financial dealings with Libya, we must suspend all settlement services with Libyan Airlines and Afriquiyah Airways effective immediately.
Therefore IATA has suspended Libyan Airlines (LN-148) and Afriqiyah Airways (8U-546) from all BSPs.
BSP Travel Agents should:
Stop immediately all ticketing and refund transactions through the GDSs and BSPlink and continue to remit funds to the BSP.
As soon as we have more information, we will communicate this to you

The Libyan aviation might just undergo Iraq-like battering that will take years to repair.

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1 Response
  1. Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.

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