Tripoli, 27 June 2014:
The ongoing closure of Benghazi’s Benina Airport has caused pre-Ramadan travel woes, with customers facing a long car journey . . .[restrict]to the the nearest alternative airport and struggling to buy tickets.
The airport has now been closed for over a month, since the launch of General Khalifa Hifter’s Operation Dignity in Benghazi in mid-May. Many local flights have been rerouted to Beida’s Labraq airport but travellers have complained that they still face around a two-hour drive between Labraq and Benghazi.
“Many people like to go home for Ramadan so this is a big problem for local people,” one Benghazi resident said. “Labraq is also only a small airport and it does not have the capacity to deal with all these passengers.”
He added that those flights still operating from Labraq were often fully-booked weeks in advance, with some travellers struggling to buy tickets even for journeys as far ahead as August.
Local taxi drivers have also taken advantage of Benina’s closure to ramp up the price of journeys to and from Beida. “Before Operation Dignity started, it cost around LD40 to get to Labraq Airport but now we are being charged up to LD120,” said another local resident.
Benina Airport looks likely to remain closed for the foreseeable future due to ongoing fighting in and around the city.
“We have no idea when the airport will be able to reopen because of the security situation,” the Director General of the Libyan Civil Aviation Authority (LYCAA) Captain Nasereddin Shaebelain told the Libya Herald. “We are constantly looking at and evaluating the situation day by day but, at the moment, we cannot predict a date for its reopening.” [/restrict]