TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia will reopen part of its airspace to flights from western Libya for the first time in around six months, following the re-establishment of its consulate in Tripoli, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Last year Tunisia halted all flights to Tripoli and other airports in western Libya outside the control of the official government for security reasons after fighting in the neighboring North African country worsened and most diplomats pulled out of the Libyan capital.
Libya has two governments fighting for control four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi. The internationally recognized administration has been based in the east since losing control of Tripoli in August when an armed group seized the capital and parts of western Libya.
Flights from Tunis to eastern Libya had never stopped.
“We decided today to reopen Tunisian airspace to Libyan flights from Maitiga (Tripoli) and Misrata airports,” Hatem Mootamri, a top official in Tunisian civil aviation told Reuters. “The first trip will be next Friday from Maitiga to Sfax airport in Tunisia.”
A Libyan official confirmed the flight on March 20, adding that Libyan airlines also hoped to fly to the capital Tunis soon.
Tunisia decided to reopen its consulate in Tripoli last month. Tunisia is worried violence will spill over from Libya, where Islamic State militants have expanded their influence, exploiting turmoil as the rival governments fight for control.
Last year, gunmen kidnapped two Tunisian journalists working in Libya. Their fate is unknown.
Reporting by Tarek Amara and Ahmed Elumami; Editing by Patrick Markey and Alison Willaims