By Tom Westcott.
Tripoli, 24 February 2013:
Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines have now been given permission to fly to Tripoli, but Lufthansa will . . .[restrict]be flying on a reduced schedule.
Director general of Libya’s Civil Aviation Authority (LYCAA), Captain Nasereddin Shaebelain, told the Libya Herald that its initial refusal to allow Lufthansa and Austrian to fly to Tripoli was “not really anything serious.” He added that the airlines were now resuming normal operations.
“They stopped operating for a reason unknown to us,” Shaebelain said, in reference to the two airlines’ decision to suspend all their flights to Libya on 5 February. “And since they had not told us in the proper way, and there was no explanation whatsoever, when they decided to come back, we had to have a meeting with them before they could start operations.”
Flights were resumed on Thursday 21 February, having been suspended for 15 days on security grounds. However, as passengers boarded the first Austrian Airlines flight back to Tripoli, they were told that landing rights had been denied. Travellers were rerouted on different airlines via Istanbul and London.
Today, Sunday, Lufthansa’s Frankfurt to Tripoli flight ran as normal.
The airline, however, will now be flying on a reduced schedule, with just three flights per week.
“Lufthansa has a quota of three flights,” Shaebelain said, explaining that this was increased to five flights a week under a code-sharing agreement the German airline had with state-owned carrier Libyan Airlines.
“Since Lufthansa stopped the operations abruptly, the code-sharing was not enforced anymore,” Shaebelain said. “We dropped the code-sharing agreement, which means that their flights are reduced to three instead of five.”
A spokesperson for Lufthansa, however, told the Libya Herald that the airline had not cancelled any agreements.
Shaebelain said that resuming the flights under the code-share agreement was not for the LYCAA to decide, but would be discussed between the airlines themselves. “Those flights are the rights of Libyan Airlines,” he said, “they may decide to give them to Lufthansa or to any other airline.”
Flights have resumed just in time for tomorrow’s Austrian Trade delegation in Tripoli. [/restrict]