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Qatar and Libya to explore resumption of direct flights following decade-long hiatus

Global airliners stopped flying over Libya back in 2014 amid intense fighting across the country

Aviation officials from Qatar and Libya are set to discuss the resumption of direct flights between the two countries for the first time next month after a decade-long hiatus, Libyan media reported on Friday.

Citing Liya’s Undersecretary for Air Transport Affairs Khaled Swesi, the reports pointed to a field visit next month by a team from the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority to inspect three Libyan airports—Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport, Benghazi’s Benina airport, and Misrata Airport.

Swesi’s media statements come after a meeting in Tripoli between the Acting President of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Mohamed Faleh Al Hajri, and the Head of Libya’s Civil Aviation Authority Mohammed Mohammed Shlebek on Thursday.

Both sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in civil aviation under joint efforts to expand ties in the sector, Qatar’s news agency reported at the time.

Separate reports by Libyan media said the MoU came “within the framework of enhancing civil aviation facilities between Tripoli and Doha”. 

The agreement also “includes operating joint cooperation channels in the field of air traffic management, meteorological services” and “exchanging trained and qualified competencies.”

Global airliners stopped flying over Libya back in 2014 amid intense fighting across the country. Instead, travellers were forced to transit through Tunisia, Turkiye or Egypt.

By 2019, warlord General Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi launched a military campaign to capture control of the capital city of Tripoli, which is under the rule of the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

The GNA, backed by Turkish forces, later managed to reclaim the capital in 2020 following intense fighting against Haftar, who was backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Russia. The war became widely known as “The Battle for Tripoli”. 

Libya is still divided between the rival administrations in Tripoli and the eastern side.

Meanwhile on Saturday, flights officially resumed between Libya and Italy after nearly a decade-long pause under a ban imposed by the European Union in 2014, though it remains effective.

The flight, operated by Libya-based Medsky Airways, departed Tripoli’s Mitiga airport to the Italian capital of Rome. The major development came months after the Tripoli-based government of Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh held talks with Italian officials on lifting the air embargo.

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