By Libya Herald reporter
Tripoli, 5 July 2017:
Following last month’s suspension of its Mitiga-Tunis service, Buraq airlines has now stopped its remaining flights from Mitiga to Labraq and Tobruk. The office in Tripoli is closed and attempts to contact the independent carrier by phone have been unsuccessful. However, members of staff, speaking privately, have told the Libya Herald that all flight operations have been suspended and that the company is in financial difficulties.
Earlier last month, Buraq announced that it was suspending its service to Tunis until after Eid on the grounds that there was little demand during Ramadan. This was dismissed by other airlines which said that they were not experiencing any similar slowdown in demand.
One senior official from a rival airline explained that, like all Libyan carriers, Buraq was experiencing a hard-currency cash flow crisis because of the Central Bank of Libya’s restrictions on access to dollars. However, he said, it was being particularly badly hit. Its problem was the cost of maintenance of its two Boeing 737-800s. Unlike Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways which carry out a degree of maintenance themselves, Buraq had no in-house technical department to carry out the maintenance required and had to contract it out abroad. That required hard currency which was not being made available, the rival airline official said. Moreover, he explained, one of Buraq’s Boeings needed a major engine overhaul. Additionally, he pointed out, even if it was not flying, the carrier still had to make the payments on the two aircraft – in dollars. That added to its difficulties.
The company, which has some 180 staff, was working hard to find a solution and had been approaching potential investors, he added, but the political crisis since 2014 had made the situation worse.
“We’re all losing money at the moment, but it is hitting Buraq harder than the rest of us.”