By Nigel Ash
Tripoli, 11 April 2013:
As a strike among its pilots and other staff enters its second week, Libyan Airlines today appeared to announce that it was taking no more bookings for its flights until further notice.
A statement purporting to come from the company said: “Due to the increased number of work strikes, we would like to warn all travellers against making any flight reservations with Libyan Airlines during the present time and to go instead to local companies for domestic flights, such as, Buraq Air, Afriqiyah Airways and other foreign companies for international flights. Please note that all Libyan Airlines destinations are being offered by other airline companies”.
However, the release then went on to make some highly critical remarks about senior members of staff. It was not possible to contact anyone at Libyan Airlines this evening to authenticate of the statement.
What is not in doubt is that Libyan Airlines’ operations have been crippled by the industrial action. The strikers have two main demands, which are that the headquarters of the carrier be returned to Benghazi, where it was established in 1964 and that senior executives of the Libyan African Holding Company, (LAHC) which controls both Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah, should be removed for their association with the Qaddafi regime.
Today an executive at the holding company was reported as saying that there was no intention of relocating any part of its operations to Benghazi. Though both Libyan and Afriqiyah are state-owned institutions, whose assets are held by LAHC, each carrier has a separate management. Moreover the airlines compete, sometimes with a vigour that betray’s Libyan Airline’s feeling that in Qaddafi’s time, it became the poor relation to the new Afriqiyah, which embodied the dictator’s plans for himself in sub-Saharan Africa.