By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 2 November 2016:
A number of staff at Afriqiyah Airway’s head office in Tripoli took part in protests yesterday at the way the company is run, focussing in large part on its financial policies and the managerial style of the carrier’s ebulliant chairman Abubaker Elfortia.
Posters stating “No to playing with Libyan money”, “The company does not belong to Elfortia”, “Bring back the Airbus 330 from Turkey” and others appeared on the building as staff protested outside.
The protests did not disrupt services, however. “Flights have been operating normally, a senior member of staff told the Libya Herald. “These were management issues at the head office.”
Despite its 150 pilots and around a thousand staff, Afriqiyah is a tightly run operation. Given the current problems in Libya and the difficulties of exchanging dinars for dollars and euros, one Afriqiyah official recently told this newspaper that the airline had been forced to concentrate on earning money abroad for it to survive.
“We have to look at alternative opportunities,” he said.
One of those alternatives was to lease its two Airbus 330s to Turkish Airlines, he said.
This produced an outcry in Libya at the time, with allegations being bandied around about corrupt deals and demands led by the then Tripoli “prime minister” Khalifa Ghwell that the two be brought back to Libya. One was returned but is sitting unused at Mitiga because it is not deemed financially for short domestic routes. The other is still with Turkish Airways.
“The truth is, we need the money and we can’t use them to Europe because of the ban,” the official said.