By Sami Zaptia.
London, 6 February 2017:
The first ‘‘charter’’ flight arrived in Misrata from Malta yesterday as confusion continued regarding the possibility of Afriqiyah flights resuming to Malta.
The confusion was sown by an Afriqiyah announcement in January stating that it would start selling tickets between Malta-Misrata and Malta-Labraq as of February. Many interpreted this as Afriqiyah intending to operate its own aircraft to and from Malta, and thereby ending the EU-flight ban on Libya.
However, what Afriqiyah failed to state clearly was that it was only acting as a ticketing agent for these charter flights operated by the Malta-based (but Libyan-owned) Medavia. Medavia already operates flights to Tripoli’s Mitiga airport. There are special dispensations for charter flights which are deemed a separate category from ordinary scheduled flights.
The confusion reached such a level that the Maltese Civil Aviation Directorate was forced to put out a statement last Wednesday refuting the possibility of any Afriqiyah flights landing in Malta and contravening the EU flight ban.
The statement confirmed the EU flight ban on Libyan carriers, scheduled or chartered, as still being in place. It also confirmed what Libyan Airlines sources had previously told Libya Herald, namely that there exists a valid air service agreement signed between Malta and Libya that does not give Afriqiyah any rights to fly between Malta and Libya.
In other words, when and if scheduled flights by Libyan carriers resume between Malta and Libya, they would be served by Libyan Airlines and not by Afriqiyah carriers.
There will be a twice-weekly service (Sundays and Wednesdays) between Misrata and Malta which started yesterday 5 February and flights between Labraq in eastern Libya and Malta will start (Tuesdays and Thursdays) on 9 February.
Medavia usually uses its Bombardier Dash planes carrying 37-50 passengers or its smaller Beechcraft planes carrying 19 passengers.