Libyan Airlines will restart operations to and from Malta today after wet-leasing an aircraft to circumvent the ban imposed by the European Commission earlier this month.
The airline will fly out twice weekly, Monday and Thursday, after managing to strike a wet-leasing agreement with Nouvelair, Tunisia’s leading private airline.
Libyan Airlines’ representative in Malta, Kevin Farrugia, said the new aircraft, an Airbus A320, would allow the airline to continue flying between Libya and Malta.
Discussions are also in their final phase to operate flights to other European destinations including Manchester, Rome, Madrid and Athens, among others, he said.
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.
Earlier this month the Commission banned all Libyan airlines from European airspace until November, at the earliest, because of safety concerns.
A Commission spokesman said when contacted yesterday that wet-leasing aircraft were not excluded when airlines were banned from European airspace.
The ban was agreed with Libya’s civil aviation authorities following “serious concerns... regarding the safety oversight of air carriers licensed in Libya”.
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.
Mr Farrugia said the flights from Tripoli will arrive in Malta every Monday and Thursday at 6.15 p.m., with a return flight leaving Malta an hour later.
He said Libyan Airlines was also in the process of wet-leasing another of Nouvelair’s Airbus fleet and this will also be used on the Malta route, increasing frequency to and from Malta from twice weekly to four times a week.
Mr Farrugia said Libyan Airlines will also be providing a cargo service, with the possibility of transporting cargo to and from Tripoli and Malta.