Libyan Airlines seeks to fly around EU ban

Libyan Airlines is in the final stages of wet-leasing an aircraft from a recognised European airline to be able to circumvent the ban imposed by the European Commission last week.

The airline’s representative in Malta, Kevin Farrugia, said the aircraft would allow the airline to continue flying between Libya and European destinations including Malta, Athens, Vienna, Heathrow and Rome, among others.

A wet lease is a leasing arrangement where an airline provides an aircraft, complete with crew, maintenance and insurance, to another airline which pays by hours operated. The airline leasing the aircraft provides fuel and covers airport fees and any other duties and taxes.

As in this case, a wet-leased aircraft may be used to fly services into countries where the airline is banned from operating with its own aircraft.

The Commission last week banned all Libyan airlines from European airspace until November, at the earliest, because of safety concerns.

The ban was agreed with Libya’s civil aviation authorities, the Commission’s statement said. The decision was taken following “serious concerns... regarding the safety oversight of air carriers licensed in Libya”.

It said the ban was agreed following intensive consultation with Libyan civil aviation authorities and the Libyan Transport Ministry.

As a result, the Libyan civil aviation authorities adopted restrictions applicable to all air carriers licensed in Libya, which exclude them from flying into the EU until at least November 22.

When contacted, Mr Farrugia was keen to point out it was not a ban but a temporary restriction. “We were not blacklisted,” he said, referring to international reports that put it on an aviation blacklist.

The EU’s updated air safety list included a ban on the Venezuelan airline Conviasa, due to numerous safety concerns arising from accidents and the results of ramp checks at EU airports.

The safety performance of two other Venezuelan air carriers, Estellar Latinoamerica and Aerotuy, was also reviewed in depth.

However, measures were not considered necessary at this stage and these two air carriers remain subject to increased monitoring.

In announcing the ban, Commission vice president Siim Kallas said: “The Commission is ready to spare no effort to assist its neighbours in building their technical and administrative capacity to overcome any difficulties in the area of safety as quickly and as efficiently as possible. In the meantime, safety comes first.”

(Source: Times of Malta)

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