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New Route of the Day (28 March 2024): Turkish Airlines between Istanbul IST and Tripoli MJI

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Turkish Airlines inaugurated services between Istanbul IST and Tripoli MJI on Thursday 28 March, marking its return to the Libyan market after a decade. The 1,655-kilometre journey will be maintained 3-weekly, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays with a mix of 737-800 and 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

The airline faces considerable competition on the route from local Libyan carriers, including 3-weekly Afriqiyah Airways flights, 6-weekly with Crown Airlines, 2-weekly with Libyan Airlines, and 2-daily rotations performed by Libyan Wings.

Flight TK639 departs Istanbul IST at 08:00 local time, arriving at Tripoli MJI at 10:00 local time. The return service, operating as TK640, takes off from the Libyan capital at 12:00 local time, touching back down in Türkiye’s largest city at 16:20 local time.

What they said

Bilal Eksi, CEO at Turkish Airlines, said: “As Turkish Airlines, we feel the excitement of connecting continents, this time in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. We are delighted to start flights again to Libya, with which we have historical ties.  We will continue to bring cultures together in Africa, as in many continents. We believe that tourism and trade will continue to grow in the medium- and long-term in light of the continued development and investment in Libya.”

Mohamed al-Shohobi, the Minister of Transportation in the Libyan government, added: “The arrival of the Turkish Airlines flight today is a message of guarantee to all international aviation agencies. This step confirms the stabilisation of the security situation in Libya and supports our commitment to applying standards of civil aviation safety and security. We also encourage other airlines that may not have sufficient information about the security situation in Libya to resume flights from Libya.”

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Turkish Airlines returns to Tripoli after 10-year hiatus

Libya, which has the largest volume of oil reserves in Africa, has faced significant challenges since the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, which led the country into a civil war in 2014, hitting its aviation industry hard, amongst other sectors.

Libya has two competing governments, the first in Tripoli (west), which is recognised by the United Nations, and the second in the east. Tripoli’s main international airport – Tripoli TIP – was damaged during the civil war, which lasted for six years, and is no longer in operation, with Mitiga Airport now in use instead.

International carriers resumed operations to Tripoli in 2021, the first being Tunis Air. Since then, Egypt Air has commenced flights, with the pair now joined by Turkish Airlines. According to the internationally recognised Libyan government, talks are ongoing to secure greater international connectivity.

Turkish Airlines serves over 130 countries and 346 destinations across the world. Among them, 41 are in Africa. Of those, Cairo, Tunis, and Algiers in the north of the continent are the most served based on the number of flights. They also have the most available seat capacity.

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