By George Grant.
Tripoli, 20 November:
Air Libya is to restart flights to Kufra on Thursday as part of a major expansion that will see the company almost double its fleet size in the next six weeks.
The airline, which has hitherto specialised in providing dedicated flights for oil and gas companies, halted its Kufra service on 17 September in order to fulfil its contractual obligations to the Waha Oil Company.
“Until recently, Air Libya had four aircraft, and three of those have been providing a dedicated service to Waha Oil for almost a year”, said Mohamed Elobeid, Air Libya’s vice president for commercial. The fourth was used as a charter service for other purposes, but was kept on standby for Waha Oil if needed.
On Saturday, however, Air Libya took delivery of a 737-400 aircraft on a minimum six-month lease. Its first flight is at 17:00 this afternoon, Tuesday, from Benghazi to Alexandria.
The company hopes to provide three flights a week to Kufra in addition to its passenger services to other destinations, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
At the end of this month, Air Libya will be expanding its services still further with the arrival of a recently purchased RJ100 aircraft, a newer version of the BAe 146. The company has also purchased a second RJ100 which is due to arrive four weeks later, taking the total fleet size to seven.
Elobeid says that Air Libya’s main drive will remain the provision of services to the oil and gas sector, and the company’s contract with Waha Oil has just been extended for another year. With the larger fleet, however, the airline will also now be looking to expand its operations more broadly into regular passenger flights.