By Ali Shuaib
TRIPOLI, Sept 16 Air traffic controllers at
Tripoli's international airport have agreed to end a strike that
halted most flights in and out of Libya on Sunday, officials
Airport staff gave differing explanations of the reason for
the stoppage - some said it was over pay while others said it
was for better equipment to improve security.
Tripoli airport director Milad Maatouq said the striking
workers and civil aviation authority officials had met Libya's
new Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagour.
"They went to meet the new prime minister and he promised to
look at their demands," Maatouq said. "They have agreed to end
the strike, air traffic will resume."
An official at Abu Shagour's office confirmed the meeting
had taken place, adding: "The strike is over."
Air traffic was suspended in the late morning and the strike
hit airports in other cities such as Benghazi in the east, where
some flights take directions from controllers in the capital.
A Qatar Airways plane bound for Benghazi in the early
afternoon was diverted to Alexandria in Egypt. The plane's pilot
told passengers it would return to Doha as Libyan air space was
At Tripoli's international airport, hundreds of passengers
waited in the main hall for hours, angry that controllers had
failed to give airlines the required 72-hour notice of the
"I had my boarding pass, I was waiting to board and then
this happens. Everything is delayed," said Libyan passenger
Salah Ashour, hoping to travel to Morocco.
In December air traffic controllers walked out because they
were unhappy about the appointment of new management.
Libya has been trying to return to business as usual after
last year's war that toppled Muammar Gaddafi. But the country
On Friday, air space over Benghazi airport was closed
temporarily because of anti-aircraft fire by Islamists at U.S.
reconnaissance drones flying over the city, days after the U.S.
ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an attack.
The closure prompted speculation the United States was
deploying special forces in preparation for an attack against
militants involved in the assault on the U.S. consulate.