By Libya Herald reporter.
Benghazi, 19 February 2017:
The management at Benghazi’s Benina Airport have asked the Libyan National Army (LNA) to give it the green light to restart civil flights, the Libya Herald has learned. The airport authorities believe that it is now safe to reopen.
It closed in May 2014 although the adjacent airbase which uses the same runway continued to operate, being used as the base from which to launch attacks on militants’ positions in the city. At one point in 2014, though, it looked as if the militants would capture it, as happened with Tripoli International Airport. They failed and were gradually pushed back from the Benina area although they continued to shell it.
Following an order from the interim government exactly a year ago to airport staff to return to work, there were regular suggestions that it was about to reopen. All were firmly denied by the management who consistently said it was too soon to do so. However, works to repair the damage and upgrade facilities, such as new surveillance cameras, air-conditioning units and information display boards, were carried out in the meantime, pending the reopening.
Over the past few weeks, also, there has been tentative steps towards reopening. November saw the first cargo flight since 2014 and there have been flights transporting war wounded. Last month, boycotting Presidency Council member Ali Gatrani flew from Malta to Benina aboard an Air Libya aircraft.
Last week, the Beida-based prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni, whole on a visit to Benghazi, said that the reopening of Benina had to be a priority.