By Salem Ali.
Tripoli, 19 February 2015:
Mitiga airport has announced the resumption of flights to Amman and Istanbul but they now have . . .[restrict]to have to stopover en route at either Labraq or Tobruk, both under the control of the Beida-based government.
Earlier this week flights from Mitiga to Istanbul were forced to turn back after the Egyptian authorities refused to let flights originating from Libya Dawn-controlled airports fly through Egyptian air space.
The only alternative route, flying over Greece using European airspace is already closed to all Libyan carriers.
The government in Beida had previously insisted that all flights originating in Mitiga and Misrata stop for inspection at Labraq or Torbuk before proceeding to international desinations, but the carriers had been able to get round this because Egypt had continued to allow them to use its airspace unrestricted – until this week.
“The airline companies have reached an agreement with the Egyptian civil aviation authority to let Libyan planes, flying from Mitiga airport, pass through their airspace on condition they land en route at Labraq or Tobruk airports,” Mohamed Shafter from Mitiga operations management told the Libya Herald.
He denied that cancelled flights today had had anything to do with the issue. “The cancellation of flights to Istanbul today was due to heavy snow in Istanbul,” he said.
Istanbul and Amman are the only two international destinations now being served from Tripoli. Services to a third, Casablanca, ended on Monday when the Moroccan authorities banned Libyan aircraft from their airspace following the massacre of the Egyptians in Sirte.
The mechanics of the enforced stopovers at Tobruk and Labraq are as yet unknown, both of which are already overstretched way beyond capacity. There has been no announcement whether passengers from Mitiga will have to leave the aircraft with their luggage for inspection or if they will be allowed to simply wait on board for security procedures. [/restrict]