By Ashraf Abdul Wahab.
Tripoli, 20 December:
A new A320 Airbus was handed over to Libyan Airlines today, Thursday. It was flown from . . .[restrict]Toulouse to Abraq airport. It is the second A320 to be delivered to the airline this month. The first, and the first to be delivered since the revolution, was flown to Misrata on 1 December.
A third A320 Airbus is to be delivered to Afrqiyah Airways on Monday 24 December —Libyan Independence Day. It will also be flown to Abraq. It will be the first without the carrier’s tail-plane 9999 logo which is being dropped.
The logo refers to the birth of the African Union in Sirte on 9 September 1999 (9/9/99). Qaddafi saw it as his creation. A new simpler logo was unveiled yesterday, Wednesday.
The newly delivered aircraft join both carriers’ expanding fleets.
Last month, it was announced in Tripoli by visiting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius that Afriqiyah Airways had ordered four new A350-900 Airbus long-haul aircraft in addition to the six already ordered, making the whole deal worth $2.8 billion. Delivery will start in 2017.
Both Afriqyah and Libyan Airlines have other Airbus aircraft on order.
The newly delivered aircraft are expected to help ensure the lifting of the ban on Libyan aircraft from flying to Europe.
In April, both Afriqiyah and Libyan Airlines were banned from flying to EU destinations, because of serious concerns about “safety oversight”. The ban, which was imposed with the agreement with the then interim Libyan government, was due to last until November, but has not yet been lifted and to service some of their EU destinations, both carriers have been “wet-leasing” aircraft — hiring them complete with crews.
There have been reports in the past couple of days that Libyan Airlines would start flying again to destinations in the EU from 15 January.
“We will use the airbus 320s that have just been delivered,” the head of the Libyan Pilots’ Union, Captain Hussein Al-Futuri, told the Libya Herald today.
Although other airline sources in Tripoli cast doubt on the reports he said that “we’ve had promises from Brussels. We have negotiated with them that they will give us approval to fly. They promised they would give us approval ten days before 15 January. We need ten days to arrange schedules.”
Meanwhile, it has been announced that Benghazi-based private carrier Air Libya is to purchase an Avro RJ1000 for its international flights instead of leasing a Turkish aircraft.