Franco-Dutch airline Air France-KLM has signed a contract with Libyan carriers Afriqiyah Airways and Libyan Airlines to repair aircraft damaged during the conflict to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi.
Afriqiyah has reaffirmed a contract with Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance – signed in 2008 and suspended for a year because of political unrest – to support its Airbus A320 and A330 fleet, Air France said last month.
Air France also signed a five-year repair and maintenance deal with Libyan Airlines relating to its fleet of seven A320s, of which three are yet to be delivered.
“Air France is offering its expertise in the resumption of air operations in Libya by helping Afriqyiah Airways and Libyan Airlines return their aircraft to service, aircraft which were damaged during the fighting that took place there in recent months,” Air France said.
French Trade Minister Pierre Lellouche said on a visit to Tripoli that European planemaker Airbus, part of aerospace and defence group EADS, had resumed talks to deliver aircraft to Libya following Gaddafi’s fall.
The two Libyan carriers have a backlog of orders worth around US$4 billion at current list prices for Airbus aircraft.
Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah, subsidiaries of holding company Libyan Airlines Authority, have been slowly returning to normalcy since the Libyan civil war ended. One of Afriqiyah’s A300-600s was destroyed by fire in August while four of its A320s were damaged during fighting, leaving only two aircraft in flying condition at the end of the fighting in Tripoli. Libyan Airlines lost an A300 during the conflict.
Both airlines are struggling to recover after nearly a year of fighting to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, and still suffer from security problems and other issues – on December 13 air traffic controllers walked off their jobs, disrupting flights in Tripoli, Benghazi and Sabha. However, positive developments are in the pipeline, with prospects of a merger improving. Meanwhile, Tripoli’s airport upgrade is expected to be complete by the end of the year.