A rocket attack in Libya has left multiple aircraft damaged at Mitiga Airport in Tripoli today. The rockets, presumed to have been launched by Hafter-affiliated militias, hit at least two passenger planes belonging to Afriqiyah Airways and Buraq Airlines. Neither plane had any passengers on board at the time.
At least two aircraft damaged
Rockets fired at Tripoli’s International Airport have hit at least two passenger aircraft, causing serious amounts of damage. Reporting in AA.com suggests that as many as nine rockets were fired at Mitiga Airport east of Tripoli overnight. One, they say, hit close to the airport, causing ‘fear and panic’ among passengers and staff.
In a statement released by Buraq Air, reported in AirportHaber, the airline said that shrapnel parts hit a passenger plane, and that major damage was incurred. The airline said that the aircraft was no longer usable due to the damage. Local media report that the aircraft was sitting unoccupied on the apron at the time of the attack.
In the recent rocket attack of militia forces at Tripolis-Mitiga Airport (HLLT), Libya, two commercial jets, one Airbus of Afriqiyah and a B737 of Buraq Air were hit by shelling causing major damage. Both aircraft were parked empty at the time. @Lyobserverhttps://t.co/T8CoqWDCIl pic.twitter.com/Qz3GZnGWz7
— JACDEC (@JacdecNew) March 3, 2020
A second aircraft, believed to belong to Afriqiyah Airways, is also reported to have sustained damage. The airline shared photos of the damage online, with spokesperson Imran Zabadi reported as saying that this aircraft was also too badly damaged to be used.
The aircraft types are believed to be a Boeing 737 of Buraq Air, and an A320 of Afriqiyah. The damage to these planes will be a huge blow for both airlines. Buraq Air operates a fleet of only six aircraft, all Boeing 737 variants. Four are Boeing 737 Classics, while two are the newer Boeing 737-800 model.
— Oded Berkowitz (@Oded121351) March 3, 2020
Afriqiyah Airways has a larger fleet to fall back on, with 15 aircraft in service, according to Planespotters. The airline operates an all-Airbus fleet, including one A300, 11 A320 family aircraft and three A330 widebodies.
Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport had only recently reopened
Flights only resumed at war-torn Tripoli airport in December last year. The airport had undergone a three-month suspension of services due to repeated rocket attacks on the facility. The airport had frequently come under fire since the launch of an offensive in April 2019 by Khalifa Haftar military, as part of a campaign to take the capital from the Government of National Accord.
— The Pakistan Post (@TPPNewsOfficial) March 3, 2020
Afriqiyah Airways and Libyan Airlines took off from the airport first, on the 12th December 2019. Other Libyan airlines including Libyan Wings and Buraq soon followed after. These were the first flights sine a September 1st attack left four people wounded.
However, rocket attacks have been ramping up in recent weeks. One attack which took place towards the end of February forced a suspension of flights, according to Reuters.
While Libyan airlines are banned from Europe, there are frequent flights to Istanbul and Tunis from the airport. However, today’s attack will call into question once again the safety of the airport, and could see it reducing operations once again.