File photo: An Afriqiyah Airways aircraft is pictured at the Tripoli Airport in a file photo. REUTERS
Egypt has approved Libyan Airlines’ resumption of flights to Egypt after a suspension of flights of over a year, as Cairo begins to pave the way towards further political and diplomatic ties with the new interim Libyan government elected earlier this month.
In statements to Ahram Arabic news website, the Head of Egypt's Civil Aviation Authority, Ashraf Noweir, said that the authority has approved the resumption of the Libyan airliner’s trips to Egypt starting Thursday.
The first trip by Libyan Airlines will take off on Thursday afternoon from Benghazi’s Benina International Airport to Alexandria’s Borg Al-Arab airport, Noweir said.
He added that next week will see more trips by the airliner from Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport to the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.
The move comes one day after Egypt announced it sent to Libya this week a delegation to explore the possibility of resuming a diplomatic presence in the Libyan capital Tripoli as well as the consular presence in Benghazi.
Egypt shut its embassy and consulate in Libya in January 2014 after the kidnapping of four Egyptian staff from the embassy by gunmen and an attack on the consulate.
Both incidents came amid the violent turmoil Libya had been mired in since 2011 following the ouster and murder of its leader Muammar Gaddafi on the heels of a NATO-backed uprising.
The interest in resuming an Egyptian presence in the neighbouring country comes on the back of the latest developments, which culminated in the election of an executive authority to guide the country until legislative elections are held by the end of the current year.
Egypt has been pushing for a political settlement in Libya for years, calling for a ceasefire, a complete disarming of militias, an end to foreign intervention in the country, as well as a fair distribution of wealth between various regions in the country.
In June, Egypt proposed a peace initiative dubbed the Cairo Declaration, which was based on the conclusion of an earlier Berlin conference. The Cairo Declaration proposed a ceasefire as well as the election of a new leadership council.
In a critical step towards unifying the nation, various delegates from Libya's warring factions selected, earlier this month, a new unified interim executive authority comprising four leaders to guide the oil-rich country through to the national elections in December.