Benghazi, 8 December:
Air traffic was disrupted for several hours at Benghazi International airport yesterday following a bizarre dispute between the head of air traffic control and a Libyan Airways pilot.
Captain Hassan Zariba was preparing to take off for Tripoli when he was ordered to disembark to sign-off his flight plan in the presence of the manager.
Zariba refused on the grounds that he had already signed the flight-plan and the order did not conform to proper procedures. Quite why the manager, who has not been named, demanded the plan be signed a second time in his personal presence is not known.
“I have served as a captain since 1984 and this is the first time I ever encountered such a request”, Zariba said. “This was a humiliation and degrading to my status.” The captain added that, in his opinion, the official in question did not understand his job and was “alien to the field of administration”.
In retaliation, the air traffic controller grounded all flights in and out of the airport, leading to disruption that continued for several hours.
The Libyan Airways flight eventually took off at around 15:00, having been scheduled for departure at 12:20, after the captain relented. Regular service was able to resume thereafter. [/restrict]