Flights resumed between Libya and Italy on Saturday after a nearly decade-long suspension due to a ban by the European Union.
Twenty-five passengers boarded Saturday’s flight, operated by Libya-based Medsky Airways, which will offer a twice-weekly direct connection to the Italian capital, Rome.
The EU stopped flights operated by Libyan airlines and banned them from entering member states’ airspace in 2014, as the country was mired in intense fighting.
For much of the past decade, Libyans have had to transit through cities such as Tunis, Istanbul, or Cairo to reach Europe by air.
“This will make it much easier for Libyan citizens to travel to Europe, and alleviate the difficulties associated with the interruption that has lasted for almost 10 years,” said Hamdi Zanad, the airline’s station manager at Mitiga airport.
Restarting flights is “part of intensive government efforts to lift the European ban on Libyan civil aviation”, Libya’s UN-recognised government said on Facebook
Successive Libyan governments have since pushed for the ban to be lifted.
Medsky Airways was launched in 2022, the year after EU member Malta announced it would allow flights to and from Libya. It is unclear how the airline was able to circumvent the EU ban, which remains in place.
In early July, the Libyan government said the Italian government had lifted the ban on Libyan civil aviation using Italian airspace, and that flights would resume in September.
Italy, Libya’s former colonial power, and the Mediterranean island nation of Malta are now the only European countries to have resumed flights with Libya.
Rome has not officially commented on the move.
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