Egypt closes airspace to Libyan planes, airline says


A Libyan commercial flight heading for the Turkish city of Istanbul was forced to return to a Libyan airport after Egypt allegedly denied access to overfly its airspace.

According to Tripoli’s Matiga airport and Libyan Airlines, the plane returned to the capital city after Egypt informed it that the carrier did not have permission to enter the Egyptian airspace on Tuesday.  

The Tobruk airport in eastern Libya has also announced that all flights between the country and Egypt had been halted.

Libyan airlines are forced to enter Egyptian airspace in order to reach Turkey since the EU has imposed an overfly ban for Cyprus due to security reasons.

As most foreign carriers have ceased working with Libya, such a ban will push Libya further into seclusion as Turkey was one of the last countries its airlines were flying to.  

Earlier, Morocco announced that it had suspended all flights to and from Libya for security reasons.

Last July, foreign carriers halted flights to Libya after the Libya Dawn (the Fajr Libya) militia alliance attacked a rival faction that was in control of Tripoli’s main airport.

libyan plane

During the clashes the airport’s infrastructure and around 20 planes suffered damage.

Egypt denies ban

However, Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Hisam Kamal has denied the withholding of permission.

“No Libyan airline asked for an overfly permission,” he told state newspaper al-Ahram.

On Monday, Egypt started airstrikes on suspected ISIL Takfiri terrorists in Libya, following the mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by the terrorists.

Libya plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising against the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi. The ouster of Gaddafi gave rise to a patchwork of heavily-armed militias and deep political divisions.