LIBYAN Airways is set to finalise an order for 25 passenger and four cargo aircraft, an airline executive told TTN, as part of an intensive expansion strategy.
“The order should be finalised this month and we should announce it in December. We hope to receive the first by the end of April,” said Fauzi B Zaghonni, assistant commercial director for planning and development, Libyan Airways. He was speaking to TTN at World Travel Market.
The aircraft will range in capacity from 100 to 350, he said, and will help the airline expand its network to cover Africa, as far as South Africa, as well as fly into Europe and the Far East, while reaching India and China. A North American route was also on the plans.
He said the airline expected to carry a mix of pilgrims and business and leisure travellers. “Pilgrims are our speciality, and we have the experience of dealing with this market. But we’re now starting get some tourists.”
Zaghonni said the carrier would seek to attract European tourists to Libya in a bid to raise passenger numbers. Libya is also well positioned to be a hub serving Africa, the US and Europe.
The airline launched a twice weekly Milan-Tripoli service on November 18. Other new European destinations being considered are Madrid, Paris and Lyons.
Reconstruction of the company has already begun, he said. “It’s like starting from scratch,” he said, referring to the international economic embargo that isolated the country. Ticketing systems, inflight enetertainment and an online presence are among the operational areas being looked into now.
He said the infrastructure exists, but only needed to be ‘polished’, and that the airline’s employees had been trained in the finest colleges in the world and thus needed training ‘to go along with new concepts’.
Responding to the rise of budget carriers in the region, Zaghonni said the carrier would be a full-service airline. “We are a flag carrier, the budget model is not our main interest.”
by Keith J Fernandez