Libya welcomes back Morocco and Turkey after years of isolation

Libya is looking forward to restoring direct flights with Morocco and Turkey after a nine-year hiatus, following recent visits and talks by officials from both countries. This would be a significant achievement for air transport in Libya, which has been isolated from the rest of the world for the past decade due to security and political issues.

Morocco to resume flights soon

Last week, a delegation from Royal Air Maroc, the national carrier of Morocco, visited Mitiga International Airport, the only international airport serving Tripoli, Libya’s capital. The delegation assessed the security conditions and operational measures at the airport to ensure it complies with the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The visit came about a week after Morocco’s Transport and Logistics Minister, Mohammed Abdeljalil, met with his Libyan counterpart. Abdeljalil said that the Libyan official expressed his country’s desire to reopen air connectivity between the two countries, with a view to encouraging and strengthening economic exchanges and bilateral cooperation in different areas.


Flights between the two states were suspended in February 2015 when Morocco closed its airspace to all Libyan airlines, citing security concerns. Royal Air Maroc had already suspended regular flights to Libya in July 2014 as forces began fighting over control of Tripoli Airport. This was initially expected to be a temporary suspension, but it lasted for nine years.

Royal Air Maroc has not announced when it will resume flights, but it is expected to do so soon, depending on the readiness of Mitiga Airport.

Turkey to prepare MoU for return

Libya is also planning to welcome back Turkish Airlines, the flag carrier of Turkey, which stopped flying to Libya in 2016 due to security reasons. Turkish Airlines was one of the few international airlines that continued to serve Libya after the outbreak of the civil war in 2014, but it eventually had to halt flights as the situation deteriorated.

The Libyan Transport Minister recently met with Turkey’s Ambassador to Libya to discuss the possibility of the airline returning to the Maghreb country. The two agreed to prepare a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to expedite the Istanbul-based carrier’s return.

Turkey has been a key ally and supporter of Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), which was formed in 2015 as part of a UN-led peace process. Turkey has provided military and diplomatic assistance to the GNA, which has been locked in a conflict with the rival Libyan National Army (LNA), led by General Khalifa Haftar.

In October 2020, the two sides agreed to a permanent ceasefire and a roadmap for political dialogue, paving the way for a new interim government to take office in March 2021. The new government, headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, has vowed to unify the country and prepare for national elections in December 2021.

Libya’s progress in restoring global connections

The resumption of flights from Morocco and Turkey would be a major boost for Libya’s air transport sector, which has suffered from years of isolation and underdevelopment. Libya currently has only a few domestic airlines, such as Afriqiyah Airways, Berniq Airways, and national carrier Libyan Airlines, which fly to a handful of destinations in Africa and the Middle East. Very few international carriers serve Libya, such as Tunisair, EgyptAir, and Air Malta.

Libya has also been banned from the European Union’s airspace since 2012, due to safety and security concerns. The EU has been working with the Libyan Civil Aviation Authority (LYCAA) to help improve the standards and oversight of the aviation sector in Libya. In February 2021, the EU and LYCAA signed a technical agreement to enhance cooperation and exchange of information.

Libya has also held successful talks with other countries like Italy and the US to make the country more accessible. In January 2021, Italy reopened its embassy in Tripoli and resumed direct flights from Rome to Mitiga Airport. In February 2021, the US reopened its embassy in Tripoli and announced plans to resume flights to Libya soon.

These developments show Libya’s progress in restoring its global connections and integrating into the international community. They also reflect the hopes and aspirations of the Libyan people for peace, stability, and prosperity.

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