ROME (AFP): Air travel between Libya and Italy will resume in September after a nearly decade-long suspension following an EU ban, the head of the Tripoli-based UN-backed government said on Sunday.
“The Italian government has informed us of its decision to lift the air embargo imposed on Libyan civil aviation for 10 years,” interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah said on Twitter.
The Italian government did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation from AFP.
The Italian embassy in Tripoli said however in a tweet that the head of Italy’s civil aviation authority, Pierluigi Di Palma, discussed the resumption of flights with Libyan officials in Tripoli.
Flights between the two countries were halted in 2014 after the European Union blacklisted Libyan airlines and banned them from flying over European airspace.
Dbeibah said on Sunday that flights between Tripoli and Rome are expected “to resume in September” but he did not specify if Libyan carriers would be removed from the EU blacklist.
Malta is the only other European country to have resumed flights with Libya.
Oil-rich Libya plunged into years of chaos after a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed strongman Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.
Since then, the North African country has been divided, with one administration based in Tripoli and the other in the east where it is backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
Armed groups have exploited the turmoil to fund their activities through fuel smuggling and the illegal trafficking of migrants.
European countries suspended flights to Libya in 2014 after a coalition of mostly Islamist militias called “Fajr Libya” seized Tripoli following weeks of fierce fighting that caused massive damage to Tripoli’s international airport.