By Ashraf Abdul Wahab and Tom Westcott.
Tripoli, 3 March 2014:
Libyan Airlines is to restart its European flights, which are operated by . . .[restrict]Tunisian airline Nouvelair, after Libya’s Civil Aviation Authority (LYCAA) lifted a brief suspension following decisions to implement stricter measures on the airline.
The LYCAA enforced the suspension after a UK-bound flight from Tripoli to Manchester lost radio contact when flying over French airspace on 21 February.
“We met with the Tunisian Civil Aviation Authority to discuss the issues and are now satisfied that action has been taken to prevent such an incident happening again and to ensure passenger safety,” Director General the LYCAA Captain Nasereddin Shaebelain told the Libya Herald.
“This action includes new procedures established for crew and operations, as well as flight time limitations,” he said. The LYCAA had also decided to increase the frequency of its auditing of Nouvelair flights operating routes for Libyan Airlines, Shaebelain said.
The Tunisian Civil Aviation Authority would now carry out its own investigation into the incident in February, he added.
The Director of Libyan Airlines, Khaled Tetenaz, told the Libya Herald that it was essential that flights were restarted as soon as possible.
“We are experiencing a very bad financial situation at the moment and are not able to pay compensation to passengers who have been affected by the suspension,” he said. This was because the Libyan Jamahiriya Bank had put a block on Libyan Airilnes’ accounts, Tetenaz said, after the airline was unable to keep up with repayments on loans taken out to purchase new Airbus aircraft.
Libyan Airlines and fellow state-owned airline Afriqiyah Airways continue to wet-lease aircraft and flight crew to service their European routes due to ongoing restrictions on both airlines flying in EU airspace. Afriqiyah recently signed an agreement with an Irish aviation company that should enable it to fly unrestricted in Europe by May. [/restrict]