• Italian consortium to rebuild airport in Tripoli

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    TRIPOLI: Libyan authorities on Wednesday signed a deal with a consortium of Italian companies to build two passenger terminals at Tripoli’s international airport, which fighting forced the closure of in 2014.

    The project would have an initial cost of 78 million euros ($88.5 million), Sami al-Aish of the transport ministry told AFP.

    The consortium, whose members he did not identify, would build two terminals, for both international and domestic flights.

    The international terminal was expected to be built within 10 months while the domestic one was likely to be in service in 18 months, said Aish.

    The international airport in Tripoli was badly damaged during fierce fighting in mid-2014 between rival armed groups vying for control of the capital which eventually fell to a coalition of militias.

    The fighting sparked an exodus of Westerners from Tripoli.

    The embassy of Italy, a former colonial power, was one of the last western missions to close in February 2015 but it reopened in January.

    Flights in and out of Tripoli have been operating through Mitiga airport, a former military base east of the capital
    that was the scene of deadly fighting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Tripoli is now controlled by the UN-backed Government of National Accord but like the rest of the country, it is frequently the scene of fighting between rival armed groups.

    On June 1 forces loyal to the GNA took control of Tripoli International Airport, which is located south of the capital.

    The move came after forces loyal to a rival government began relinquishing positions in the south of Tripoli.

    The presidential guard, which is under the control of the GNA, has been tasked with airport security.

    Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 toppling of dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival militias and administrations seeking to control the oil-rich country.

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