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Libya Anticipates EU Flight Ban Lift in April 2024

Recent developments and positive audits signal a new era for Libyan aviation.

A Libyan Airlines Airbus A320-214 (Reg: 5A-LAP) arriving in the late evening from Tripoli, Libya. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The Director of the Civil Aviation Authority, Mohammed Shlibek, last week announced that he is optimistic about the potential lifting of the European flight ban on Libyan airlines in April 2024. This development comes as a result of positive outcomes from international audits assessing the civil aviation infrastructure in Libya, reports the Libyan Observer.

Shlibek expressed confidence in Libya’s readiness to welcome European flights, coinciding with the reopening of Tripoli International Airport as announced by Libya’s prime minister Abdulhamid al Dbaiba in October last year, with the PM noting that great progress has been made in the project to rehabilitate Tripoli International Airport. Notably, several Arab and foreign airlines including Ita Airways, Turkish Airlines, and Qatar Airways have shown readiness to resume operations to Libyan airports, signaling a positive shift in the aviation landscape.

The European Union imposed a ban on all Libyan airlines in 2014 due to safety concerns arising from violent clashes in the Libyan capital, Tripoli since Col Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in a revolt in 2011, BBC News reported at that time. The ban has been in effect since then, with the European Commission renewing the restriction in January 2022 due to ongoing safety and security apprehensions, covering all airlines from Libya, including Afriqiyah Airways, Libyan Airlines, Buraq Air, Ghadames Air Transport, Global Aviation and Service Group, Air Libya, and Petro Air. These carriers, along with 115 companies globally, have faced operating restrictions within the EU for not adhering to international safety standards, according to the EU.

New Air Service Agreement

A promising development occurred on Dec. 17, 2023, when civil aviation authorities from Libya and Italy signed a new air services agreement. This agreement aimed to enhance trade relations between the two nations.

The accord follows positive advancements in flight operations between Italy and Libya, including the first commercial service by ITA Airways on July 24, 2023, after almost a decade. While the initial flight was a charter, there are considerations for the airline to resume scheduled flights to the country. The reopening of nonstop flights between Libya and Italy will make Italy the third European member state after Greece and Malta to authorize flights from Libya.

As of now, the scheduled EU-Libya network is limited to flights operated by Marathon Airlines (3x weekly Athens-Benghazi) and Malta MedAir (4x weekly Malta International-Tripoli and weekly Malta-Misurata). The recent agreement sets the stage for potential growth in air travel, fostering hope for further easing of restrictions through ongoing discussions and diplomatic efforts. Some expect this positive trajectory is expected to mutually benefit both nations economically and strengthen diplomatic ties in the aviation sector.

Victor Shalton

Author

  • Victor Shalton

    Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Victor’s love for aviation goes way back to when he was 11-years-old. Living close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he developed a love for planes and he even recalls aspiring to be a future airline executive for Kenya Airways. He also has a passion in the arts and loves writing and had his own aviation blog prior to joining AirlineGeeks. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeKUT and aspiring to make a career in a more aviation-related course.

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