Tripoli is Again Without an Airport Since Salah Badi’s 2014 Attack – Al Marsad

The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Communications and Transport of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, Hisham Bushkiwat, confirmed the suspension of flights from Mitiga Airport, indicating that Mitiga operational works will be limited only to emergency medical flights.

[Libya, September 2, 2019] – The airlines moved their entire operations to Misrata Airport for the first time since Operation Dawn of Libya, which was led by the internationally sanctioned Salah Badi in 2014 following the loss by Islamists at the elections. Tripoli International Airport was destroyed in 2014 and flights were also transferred to Misrata Airport before Mitiga Airport was re-opened again and air traffic movement was restored.

Tripoli Airport, 24 August 2019

Al Marsad has followed Bushkiwat’s statement to the pro-Islamists and GNA-aligned Libya Al Ahrar TV Channel on Sunday in which he said that the airport has been subjected to 21 attacks since the beginning of what has been described as “the attack on the capital”. He said that a number of missiles had hit the civilian part of the airport injuring four passengers, three of whom were pilgrims, as well as causing severe damage to the airport infrastructure.

He also announced that the pilgrims of southern Libya will be transferred to Tamanhant Airport on Monday. The whole incident, he highlighted, has caused a great amount of inconvenience to the departing and arriving passengers especially that the airport was closed for 24 hours resulting in a great congestion of passengers.

Furthermore, he pointed out that the ministry held an extended meeting to halt the operations at Mitiga Airport due to safety concerns.

Tripoli Airport, 24 August 2019

Major General Mabrouk al-Ghazwi, Commander of the Western Region Operations Group of the Libyan National Army (LNA), however, had previously accused the Misrata militias and allies of targeting Mitiga Airport in order to transfer air traffic to their city airport. This transfer, in his opinion, can serve as an empowering advantage to exert control over the movement of passengers and officials as well as giving Misrata Airport a more civilian character while providing a cover to the Turkish hostile and belligerent activities that are conducted there.

Bushkiwat said: “We have put all our efforts to try and keep the airport operating because we understand the amount of inconvenience and delays that will result from shutting it down. We have emphasized more than 20 times that this is the only civilian airport that provides a purely civil aviation service but we have reached a point where we cannot continue to try as all the airlines and workers refused to operate since the employees’ lives are at a constant risk.

The Ministry of Communications and Transport of the Government of National  Accord (GNA) agreed with the heads of the airline boards, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Aviation Safety Administration to address the Tripoli-based Presidential Council and make it aware of the difficulties and risks of the airport’s status and request a number of urgent measures necessary for conducting safe operations.

The Media Office of the Ministry of Communications and Transport of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) pointed out that the agreement was made after the meeting held by the Minister of Transportation Milad Matouk with the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation and Air Transport, Chairman and other members of the Board of Directors of Libyan African Aviation Holding Company; Chairman of Libyan Airlines, Head of African Airways, Head of Civil Aviation Authority, and Director of Aviation Safety Department.

© Al Marsad English (2019).