Italy to lift air embargo on Libyan planes
Air links between Libya and Italy will resume in the fall after an interruption of nearly a decade, the head of the Libyan government, based in Tripoli and recognized by the UN, announced.
“The Italian government has informed us of its decision to lift the air embargo imposed on Libyan civil aviation for ten years,” Abdelhamid Dbeibah announced on Twitter on Sunday.
The Italian government did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.
But the Italian embassy in Tripoli said on Twitter that the head of the Italian Civil Aviation Authority Pierluigi Di Palma, visiting Libya, discussed with Libyan officials on Sunday “the forthcoming resumption of direct flights” between both countries, without further details. Connections between Tripoli and Rome should “resume next September”, added Mr Dbeibah.
Libyan airlines, however, have been blacklisted since 2014 as airlines banned from flying over European Union airspace.
Mr Dbeibah did not specify whether or not the Libyan carriers would be removed from this list before the planned resumption of air links with Italy.
During his official trip to Rome on 7th June, Mr Dbeibah had stressed “the importance of the reopening of the airspace” between the two countries and the lifting of the European embargo which has been affecting Libyan civil aviation since 2014.
With the resumption of flights in September, Italy will be the second European country after Malta to have a direct air link with Libya.
Libya is trying to extricate itself from more than a decade of chaos since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.
Two governments have been vying for power there for more than a year: one based in Tripoli (west) led by Mr Dbeibah, and the other in the East, supported by the powerful Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
In 2014, a coalition of militias, including Islamists, under the name “Fajr Libya”, took control of the capital after weeks of violent fighting and the almost total destruction of Tripoli’s international airport.
Since then, European countries have interrupted their links with Libya, prohibited the landing of Libyan planes and closed their airspace to Libyan companies, for security reasons.
Successive Libyan governments for more than 10 years have always tried, without success, to have this ban lifted.