Libya Airlines Cut Operations 70% After Damage to Planes

Libya’s state-owned airlines have cut operations by 70 percent after damage and destruction of planes from shelling at the country’s main Tripoli Airport as rival militia battled for control.

Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways still have some planes in Misrata, Tubruk and Al Abraq and are operating from those sites on a “small scale” to serve passengers stuck at other airports, Ali Elayan, general manager of Libyan African Aviation Holding Co., the two carriers’ owner, said in a phone interview.

A total of 21 aircraft valued at $2 billion were damaged during the week-long fighting over and shelling of the Libyan capital city’s airport, according to the country’s civil aviation authority. Militia attacks by rival armed groups seeking territorial control have been a hallmark of the turmoil plaguing the North African nation in the three years since Muammar Qaddafi was toppled as national leader.

“We are at war now, and God knows what will happen next,” Elayan said when asked about emergency plans and potential aircraft replacements. “The planes have been damaged by shrapnel in the fighting.”

Some aircraft will undergo repair in Libya and others will be fixed in Tunisia, France and Germany, where there are some maintenance agreements, Elayan said. An Airbus Group NV A330 airliner and a Bombardier Inc. CRJ have been completely destroyed, he said.

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