How do airports within a United Nations sanctioned No Fly Zone continue to show regularly scheduled flights? How do airlines banned from entering the European Union due to political sanctions show scheduled flights into and out of the European Union?
The answer can be summed up in three words … The Libyan Government.
I am not sure if the flight schedules from Libya’s airports and state owned airlines are the work of laziness, incompetence or propaganda … or a mix of all three. At this time it almost seems as if Libya’s Civil Aviation and Meteorology Bureau, who oversees the airports in Libya, have brought on Baghdad Bob to run the agency.
The first example of this was evident on the morning of the 23rd of February 2011, the day after air strikes on Benghazi’s Benina International Airport damaged both of the airport’s runways. On the 23rd of February, when obviously Benina International Airport was not operational, the airport showed a regular flight schedule. Now, with the No Fly Zone being enforced by a U.N. coalition of international military forces the airport still shows a semi-normal schedule.
The second example of oddities has appeared over the past few days, as the United Nations enforced the No Fly Zone and the European Union (EU) stated it would not allow aircraft owned by the Libyan Government to fly in EU airspace. Throughout all of this, Tripoli International Airport has been showing a semi-normal flight schedule. While many not Libyan airline flights are listed as canceled, virtually all flights state owned airlines, Libyan Arab Airlines and Buraq Air, show as scheduled. While a number of state owned Afriqiyah Airways flights show as canceled, many show as scheduled.
The third example of Libya’s airport propaganda are airline schedules for flights to Europe appearing to be semi-normal during the turmoil, despite the ban on Libyan Aircraft in EU airspace, and foreign military action preventing aircraft from flying. Flights by Libyan state owned airlines show active schedules into Paris, Manchester, Rome and other EU destinations show as scheduled … despite the British, French and Italians involvement in enforcing the Libyan No Fly Zone.
The fourth … and possibly strangest … example of Libya’s Government attempting to show a sense of normalcy throughout the strife within Libya, and external military force preventing flights, has to be the normal schedule of flights between Tripoli and Benghazi. Despite the obvious political issues between Tripoli and Benghazi at this time … the Libyan Air Force is responsible for the air strikes on the Benghazi’s Benina International Airport, damaging the runways so aircraft cannot utilize them.
Of all the propaganda tools a government can have at their disposal, showing flights that obviously can’t be flying as scheduled, to destinations that they cannot currently serve due to international law, is one of the more unusual propaganda tools.
More on Libya’s airlines later …
Below is a screen shot of the March 21 2011 morning departures schedule from Tripoli International Airport.