Fathi Bashagha: There Will Be No Military Presence at Mitiga Airport – Al Marsad

A joint press conference was held on Tuesday by UNSMIL’s Ghassan Salamé and the GNA’s Minister of Interior Fathi Bashagha to announce the resumption of civil aviation movement after almost two months of closure. Bashagha said the airport will not have any military presence.

[Libya, 31 October 2019] – An inspection tour of the Mitiga International Airport (MJI) was conducted by the UN Special Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salamé. Both the Minister of Transportation Milad Matoug and Minister of the Interior of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Fathi Bashagha, accompanied Salamé in his tour at the facilities of the airport. A joint press conference was held during the tour to announce the resumption of civil aviation movement after almost two months of closure.

GNA’s Bashagha said that they had formed a joint special committee between the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Transport “to ensure and to work on the airport being a civilian airport without any military appearance”. He added: “We cooperated with UNSMIL and today we confirmed that it is a civilian airport without any military presence”. This statement is interesting against the context of the repeated denials by the GNA against well-documented accusations that it was using the airport as a base to conduct air raids using Turkish drones against the Libyan National Army (LNA).

Meanwhile, Libyan Airport Authority, headed by its Chairman Mohammed Bait Al-Mal, held a meeting with both the Acting Director of the  Libyan Civil Aviation Authority and the Mitiga International Airport (MJI) Manager, as well as the Chairman of the Board of Directors and General Managers of Libya’s National Air Transport Companies to clarify the measures to be taken and the necessary procedures for the resumption of airport operations. The GNA Minister of Transportation Milad Matoug said that the resumption will be “gradual and after preparing work is done at the international departure lounge.”

The attendees agreed that the maintenance works contribute to better services for passengers and are expected to accelerate the reopening of the Mitiga International Airport (MJI) within a maximum time frame of two weeks.

The head of UNSMIL, Ghassan Salamé, reiterated the importance of reopening the airport for a large part of the Libyan people, humanitarian workers, diplomats, and the flights to transport migrants agreeing on voluntary return.

© Al Marsad English (2019)

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