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Benghazi’s Benina back in business

A Libyan Airways (LA) flight from the Jordanian capital Amman touched down in the small hours of this morning to become the first commercial airliner in over three years to make a scheduled landing at Benghazi’s Benina airport. Shortly afterwards another LA flight from Mitiga also touched down.

Later this morning, there was a small hiccup when the return LA flight from Benina to Amman was delayed for an hour because the Egyptian authorities said they had not been told of the flight plan, which took the aircraft over their territory. 

The LA Amman flight was not actually the very first to arrive. This May, another LA flight, from Alexandria, was diverted from Labraq to Benina because Labraq was closed in by a dust storm. Benina has also been handling chartered pilgrimage flights to Saudi Arabia. 

In the past few days there has been a series of social media posts with the tag “Bye Bye Labraq”. It seems it will not be missed by regular travellers, not least because of the bossiness of terminal staff trying to cope with a flow of passengers for which the small regional airport was never designed. In January 2015 the airport even closed for two days because it was overwhelmed by the number of travellers. There has also been a series of strikes, most recently this May, by baggage handlers protesting at unpaid salaries. 

Most of Labraq’s customers were coming from or heading too Benghazi. The 200 km journey from downtown Benghazi added to the rigours using this small airport. 

But now Labraq can sink back to its quiet ways serving Beida and Marj. Benina has returned as the east Libyan hub. Though its passenger handling systems are reportedly working well, it has yet however to duplicate Tripoli’s Mitiga airport informative online arrivals and departures pages. In fact it has no such pages at all.
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