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Afriqiyah Airways cannot operate flights to Malta

Afriqiyah Airways remains on the EU’s aviation safety blacklist while the announced weekly flights from Misrata and Labraq will be operated by another company, Medavia

jurgen
Jurgen Balzan
1 February 2017, 1:12pm
A number of Libyan news agencies reported that Afriqiyah Airways plans to start regular charter flights to Malta from Misrata and Labraq airports as of next week
A number of Libyan news agencies reported that Afriqiyah Airways plans to start regular charter flights to Malta from Misrata and Labraq airports as of next week
Reports that Afriqiyah Airways will be flying to Malta are incorrect, MaltaToday has learnt, as the airline remains on the EU’s blacklist while the announced weekly flights from Misrata and Labraq will be operated by another company, the Maltese registered Medavia.

All Libyan carriers are banned from flying to the European Union under the bloc’s aviation safety blacklist. No Libyan carrier is allowed to fly into the EU on commercial flights and some countries also have restrictions on EU carriers travelling out of Libya.

A number of Libyan news agencies reported that Afriqiyah Airways plans to start regular charter flights to Malta from Misrata and Labraq airports as of next week.

Afriqiyah Airways became a household name locally following the botched hijack two days before Christmas Day when two men loyal to the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, carrying fake weapons, diverted an internal flight to Malta.

The announcement elicited disbelief in the industry with many asking whether it was safe to allow the airline to fly to Malta.

But a Malta International Airport spokesperson has confirmed that Afriqiyah Airways has made no request to fly to Malta and the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) confirmed that the airline remains blacklisted.

A travel agency based in Gzira is advertising regular flights from two Libyan airports, Misrata and Labraq but these flights will be operated by Medavia, which already operates chartered flights from Tripoli. 

However, Afriqiyah, which has been trying to enter the Maltese market, will be selling tickets for the flights.

According to reports, Afriqiyah will start accepting reservations as of today. Prices are expected to be Libyan Dinar 1,300 (€860) for Misrata-Malta return, LD 750 (€500) single and LD 1,550 (€1,025) Labraq-Malta return, LD 850 (€560) single.

Planit Travel Services is advertising two weekly flights from the eastern airport of Labraq (Tuesdays and Thursdays) starting from 9 February using a 29-seat aircraft.
The agency is also advertising flights on Wednesday and Sunday on a 17-seat plane from Misrata starting on 5 February. 

Afriqiyah has a fleet of six active planes, all made by European plane maker Airbus with two Airbus A320s registered in Lithuania.

In November former Air Malta CEO and Lufthansa Technik boss Louis Giordimaina was appointed as a director of the PanAfriqiyah Airways Malta-based subsidiary, PanAfriqiyah. 

Giordimaina was appointed on 11 November by Afriqiyah boss Abubaker Elfortia, according to Maghreb Confidential, together with Nicole Frei, a former executive at Dublin-based CityJet.

The PanAfriqiyah subsidiary is expected to enable Elfortia to fly his operation by getting round the ban on Libyan companies operating in European airspace. A spokesman for CAD has confirmed that PanAfriqiyah did not meet eligibility criteria for the issue of an EU licence.

Haftar scores political victory following Malta-Benghazi air link

According to Maghreb Confidential, Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar – who controls the Libyan army which is loyal to what was the internationally recognised government in Tobruk – scored an important political and diplomatic victory after Air Libya circumvented the ban on Libyan carriers by flying from Malta to the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. 

One of Haftar’s political allies, Ali Al Ghatrani was abroad the flight from Malta to Benghazi’s Benina airport, which is controlled by Haftar’s forces.

To bypass the ban, Air Libya called in Georgian aircraft leasing company Aerovista, Maghreb Confidential reported. 

Aerovista leased him a Boeing B737-500 under an “ACMI” contract including maintenance, flight and cabin crew and an air transport certificate valid in the EU. 

But MaltaToday is informed that the flight was not a commercial one and that the aircraft flew in and out of Malta on a diplomatic flight.

jurgen
Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...