Libyan carrier halts flights after crew killed in Tripoli hotel attack


Libyan carrier Buraq Airlines said on Wednesday it had suspended all flights for two days after one of its air crews was killed in an attack on a luxury hotel in Tripoli.

It gave no details but a Libyan official has said a French national had been identified by his work identity card for the airline. Libyan websites said a crew of three were killed

Libyan carriers have struggled to keep the country connected to neighboring states since fighting between factions vying for power in Libya damaged Tripoli’s main airport last year, causing foreign airlines to pull out.

On Tuesday, gunmen stormed the luxury Corinthia hotel, one of the last large hotels in Tripoli still open, killing around nine people, among them five foreigners.
“Buraq Airlines informs that all flights will be halted in the next two days due to reasons out of our control,” the airline said on its Facebook website.

Turkish Airlines briefly returned last year to fly to Misrata, east of Tripoli, before halting flights this month due to repeated air strikes on that airport, part of a struggle between Libya’s two rival governments.

Buraq had been trying to work around a flight embargo by the European Union by leasing planes and crew abroad. Libyan-registered planes are not to allowed to cross EU airspace — lengthening flights to Istanbul, the main foreign connection still available, as planes need to make a detour around Cyprus.

Travel has been further complicated by the a ban imposed by Egypt and Tunis on flights to Tripoli and Misrata, which is under control of a rival government since a group called Libya Dawn seized Tripoli in summer.

The main eastern airport Benghazi has been closed since May due to fighting in the city.

The United Nations and most Western and Arab countries evacuated their diplomats in the summer during fighting between factions who are battling for control of the oil-producing state four years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.