Jordanian airlines halts Tripoli flights for security reasons

Jordanian airlines halts Tripoli flights for security reasons

AMMAN, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Royal Jordanian Airlines said on Monday it had to suspend Amman-Tripoli flights starting from Sunday as militias and government forces were engaged in fierce clashes over the control of the Libyan international airport.

Armed clashes broke out at Libya's international airport in Tripoli early Sunday, leaving nine people dead and 25 others injured, a Libyan health ministry official said.

Sources said the fight was between armed Islamist groups and militia from Libya's southwestern city of Zintan. Both sides claimed on their social networking websites that they have taken control of the crucial air hub.

Local media also reported that rocket-propelled grenades hit the runway, thus disrupting both domestic and international flights.

Besides the Jordanian airways, British Airlines, Egypt Air, Tunisair and Turkish Airways have also cancelled their flights to and from the airport, while the Libyan Afriqiyah Airways has redirected all flights arriving in Tripoli to Misrata.

Libya's Civil Aviation Authority has suspended all flights to Tripoli for the next three days and will dispatch a team to monitor the situation, suggesting the atmosphere is still volatile.

Tripoli International Airport, Libya's busiest airport, has been under control of the secular Zintan militia groups since the 2011 protests that left the country with a political and military power vacuum after Libya's former leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled.

Libya has witnessed a drastic escalation of violence and political instability since the fall of Gaddafi's government. Libya's weak central government has failed to reign in the former rebels and militias, many of whom now operate with impunity.

Out of security concerns, the Jordanian airlines have also halted its flights to Libya's Benghazi, Mosul in Iraq and the Syrian cities of Damascus and Aleppo due to security concerns.

The suspended flights have led to huge financial losses. In 2012 and 2013, the firm has suffered losses of about 27.3 million U.S. dollars.