All Libyan contracts with French companies will be reactivated according to Libyan Transport Minister, Yousef Wahashi. He was speaking at a . . .[restrict]press conference on Sunday with his French counterpart, Thierry Mariani, who had flown in at the head of what the French called “an exploratory” mission to investigate the scale of infrastructural damage during the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime. It comprised a number of French companies, including Air France, Aéroport de Paris International (ADPI) and investment and industrial holding company Bolloré.
The French companies were reportedly interested in Libya’s ports, airports and the maintenance sector. However, they were also said to be looking for outstanding fees on past contracts signed by the Qaddafi regime. ADPI, which had committed itself to spending €500 million building the new Tripoli international airport, still had €100-million worth of bills unpaid.
At the press conference, Mariani said that France had to be present in Libya despite the political uncertainty and the fact that the interim government would resign in June. “Whatever the government, the infrastructure is paramount,” he said. The uncertainties to which he referred were dramatically highlighted by anti-Libyan government militiamen loudly protesting at the doorway that it had “no right” to sign any contracts with anyone.
Mariani confirmed that France would help Libya rebuild the country’s aviation sector.
“Our mechanisms and airline companies will work to activate and rehabilitate Libyan aircraft. Tripoli International Airport will become a connecting link between Africa and Europe and the companies that were present in Libya will be activated and willing to operate again in the reconstruction of Libya.”
Despite the presence of Air France in the team accompanying the minister, there was no announcement that Air France would be resuming flights between Tripoli and Paris. It has been rumored that, at least for the moment, Air France is happy to leave the business in the hands of Alitalia in which it has a 25-percent stake. Alitalia operates Paris-Rome and Rome-Tripoli flights. However, the private French airline, Aigle Azur, is to start two direct Paris-Tripoli flights a week on March 27 once approval from Tripoli is granted.
Aigle Azur’s president, Arezki Idjerouidene, who was part of the delegation, told reporters in Tripoli that his company thas been working on opening the route “since 2009”. Permission had been informally given by the Libyan civil aviation authority but he was now waiting for formal confirmation.