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Direct flights from Libya to Italy set to resume

FILE PHOTO: REUTERS/Remo Casilli

The country’s embassy in the North African nation tweeted that Rome had lifted the ban which had been in place for a decade

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Direct flights between Libya and Italy are expected to resume this fall, Italian diplomats have said. Rome imposed the ban a decade ago amid the chaos that followed the toppling of the leader, Muammar Gaddafi, and NATO’s intervention. 

Italy’s embassy in Tripoli posted two messages to Twitter on Sunday, saying that a delegation from Rome had been received by Minister of State Walid Al Lafi from Libya’s Government of National Unity, as well as Libyan Civil Aviation Authority President Mohamed Shlebik. 

According to the tweets, the officials discussed the “restart of direct flights,” with the “close Italian-Libyan partnership on civil aviation” being confirmed.  

Prime Minister Abdul Hamid al-Dbeibeh said the Italian government had “informed us of its decision to lift its air ban imposed on Libyan civil aviation 10 years ago,” adding that the first direct flights are expected in September.  

The official thanked his Italian counterpart, Giorgia Meloni, hailing the decision as a “breakthrough.” 

Several Italian media outlets reported that the Libyan authorities had provided their Italian colleagues with data on infrastructure and air traffic control adjustments at local airports in recent months.  

Flights out of Libya have long been limited to destinations such as Tunisia, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and Sudan, with the EU banning Libyan civil aviation from its airspace. 

In 2011, the UN Security Council approved a proposal by the US to create a no-fly zone over Libya on ostensibly humanitarian grounds, amid the conflict between rebels and government forces under Gaddafi.  

Soon thereafter, NATO launched a bombing campaign against the government, with the US and UK navies blockading the Libyan coast. Gaddafi was eventually killed by rebels in a roadside execution in October 2011. The country plunged into years of armed conflict between rival factions. 

At present, the country is divided between the internationally-recognized Government of National Unity and the forces of General Khalifa Haftar, who established his capital in the eastern city of Tobruk.

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