By Tom Westcott.
London, 30 December:
Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways are offering by far the most seats to and from international destinations, . . .[restrict]despite still not being allowed to fly their own aircraft in EU airspace.
In the first week of December, Libyan Airlines offered a total of 36,321 seats, 6,861 of which were on domestic routes. Afriqiyah offered 22,775 seats, making the national airlines the top providers serving the country, according to the latest report released by the Centre for Aviation (CAPA).
The country’s two state-owned airlines resumed operations in late 2011 and, according to CAPA, “their initial focus has been on linking key economic and political partners around the Mediterranean, including Turkey, and to the Middle East as well as Britain.”
CAPA said: “Libya has mounted a strong economic recovery, enticing international carriers to rapidly rebuild their capacity,” adding that international airlines quickly re-established services to Libya during 2012. CAPA’s report showed that Tunisair ranked third, offering 10,232 seats, followed by Turkish Airlines which offered 9,652. Air Algerie, offering just 336 seats, was placed at number 15 in the rankings.
Restrictions remain in place on Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways flying their own aircraft in EU airspace and both airlines continue to serve European routes with wet-leased aircraft and flight crew.
However, the Libyan Civil Aviation Authority (LYCAA) is working towards ensuring that restrictions are lifted in early 2013.
“Afriqiyah Airways and Libyan Airlines are still undergoing the re-certification program,” Captain Nasereddin A. Shaebelain, director general of civil aviation in the country, told Libya Herald.
“We need at least three more weeks to complete the recertification process,” he said. “At the end of this process we are assured that those two Airlines meet the international standards related to all areas of operations, personnel and airworthiness of aircraft.”
Once the recertification process has been completed, the relevant files will be forwarded to the EU Air Safety Committee for evaluation. “If these are satisfactory,” Shaebelain said, “then the LYCAA will coordinate with the Air Safety Committee to process LYCAA’s request for restoring normal operation for that specific airline.”
Whilst there is not yet a specific date for Afriqiyah and Libyan Airlines to restart servicing European routes with their own aircraft, progress to date means that the airlines may not have to wait until the next meeting of the Air Safety Committee in the Spring. Shaebelain said: “We do not think that we will have to wait until March 2013.”