EgyptAir flight lands in Libyan capital after eight-year pause

Flights expected to operate once a week between Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh and Tripoli to boost tourism

EgyptAir expects to operate flights once a week between Sharm El Sheikh and Tripoli. Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities
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An Egyptian airline flight landed in the Libyan capital for the first time on Tuesday after an eight year pause in air travel between the two countries.

Flights are expected to operate once a week to and from Sharm El Sheikh International Airport to Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli until October 11.

In a welcome ceremony for the flight, upon arrival firefighting vehicles stationed on the runway sprayed the plane with water.

It is based on a tradition known as the “water salute”, which is used to mark either the first or last flight of an airline to an airport as a token of respect or as a welcome during notable events.

"There has been an agreement between Egypt and Libya to resume flights between the two airports that would be operated on a rate of one flight per week," the chairman of EgyptAir, Amr El Enein said in a statement.

Egypt said the move is aimed at reviving its tourism sector.

The resort on the southern tip of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula is reeling from the effects of the war in Ukraine, which have led to Ukrainians and Russians — previously among the town's top visitors — to stay away, authorities said.

The Covid-19 pandemic also badly affected the popular holiday destination.

Egypt's tourism revenues dipped sharply during the pandemic, recovering to nearly $12 billion in 2021, according to central bank data.

Mr El Enein said the flights will transport groups of tourists from Libya to the Egyptian Red Sea resort city.

Passengers will travel on a Boeing B737-800 aircraft that can carry 154 passengers.

In November, Sharm El Sheikh will host the Cop27 climate conference.

The move follows the resumption in April of daily EgyptAir flights between Cairo and Benghazi.

Mr El Enein said at the time that Benghazi is a strategically important destination given the large number of Egyptians who live there.

Last year, the two countries agreed to restart flights between them after a seven-year hiatus caused by severe security issues.

An uprising in Libya after the ousting of former president Muammar Qaddafi plunged the country into more than a decade of civil war.

Updated: August 10, 2022, 8:19 AM