Turkish Airlines stops Libya flights to Misrata
Turkish Airlines, the last foreign airline operating in Libya, has suspended flights to Misrata, the only city it was flying to in the country.
Airlines suspended flights to Libya in July after fighting broke out in the capital between rival militias at Tripoli’s main international airport.
Local companies began operating from Tripoli’s Mitiga airport and Turkish Airlines resumed a Misrata service.
The port city was hit by air strikes over the weekend.
Libya has been plagued by instability and infighting since the toppling of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and violence has steadily increased in recent months.
The Misrata-led Libya Dawn militia alliance controls much of western Libya, including Misrata and Tripoli.
The internationally recognised government was pushed back into eastern areas last year – and its air force began strikes on Misrata a week ago.
The BBC’s Rana Jawad in Tripoli says the United Nations mission to Libya has been trying and failing to bring the warring factions to the negotiating table for more than a month, but planned talks have been postponed twice.
Before security deteriorated in the oil-rich country last year, Turkish Airlines also flew to Tripoli, the eastern city of Benghazi and Sebha in the south.
Parts of Benghazi are still witnessing intense fighting as forces loyal to the government regain some territory from Islamist groups in the city.
Sebha, which has a history of ethnic rivalry, is held by various local groups and militias and has experienced deadly clashes.
Last month, the European Union banned all Libyan airlines from flying over EU airspace because of aircraft safety concerns.
Our reporter says this briefly affected the country’s flights to Turkey – a key transit destination for many Libyans – but local airlines resolved the situation by renting foreign planes and crew.
How to submit an Op-Ed: Libyan Express accepts opinion articles on a wide range of topics. Submissions may be sent to email@example.com. Please include ‘Op-Ed’ in the subject line.