British Airways said it decided to resume flights between London Heathrow Airport and Tripoli International Airport following a ‘thorough security review’ in conjunction with the British and Libyan governments. The flights, three times a week, are set to resume on May 1st.
“We are delighted to be returning to Libya,” said Keith Williams, CEO of British Airways. “Our flights to Tripoli have provided a vital economic link for many years, and it is good news for everyone that we can now restart operations.”
British Airways flights to and from Tripoli were suspended in February last year as Libyan government forces launched a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters and rebels, leading to a UN-sanctioned no-fly zone which closed all civilian airports in the North African nation from March 2011 until October 2011.
The eight-month-long civil war, which claimed more than 25,000 lives, came to an end in late October when rebels captured Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as he tried to flee his hometown Sirte. Gaddafi, who led Libya for more than 30 years, was eventually shot dead, although the exact circumstances surrounding the death remain unclear.
Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC), led by the former rebels, assumed control of the country after Gaddafi’s regime was toppled. The council appointed Abdurrahim El-Keib as interim prime minister to lead Libya until nationwide elections have taken place.
The accident happened at around 10:45am local time (4.45am Phuket time) when the Aerostar Yak 52TW aircraft went down in a park in the town of Fielding, which is located in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region of New Zealand’s North Island. There were two people on board.
Witnesses said the small aircraft, which is often used as an acrobatic training plane, was making unusually loud noises before it crashed. The pilot reportedly struggled to keep the aircraft under control, turning and spinning the plane before it plummeted down nose-first.
The violent crash also caused an explosion and fire, destroying the aircraft and leaving only mangled metal behind.
The identities of those killed were not immediately released, but Inspector Mark Harrison said the victims were ‘well known’ in the Manawatu area. They had taken off just 25 minutes prior to the accident from Taonui Aerodrome near Fielding.
“The park borders a river and residential area, and has a children’s playground, so it is extremely popular with the local community,” Harrison said. “There were a large number of people in the park at the time and it is extremely fortunate that no-one on the ground was hurt.”
The Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA) will investigate the cause of the accident. “CAA Safety Investigators Al Moselen and Steve Walker are traveling to the scene from Auckland,” CAA spokeswoman Emma Peel said in a statement.
Earlier this month, on January 7, eleven people were killed when a hot air balloon crashed near the town of Carterton on the North Island of New Zealand, making it the second deadliest accident of its kind in history. It happened when the hot air balloon hit wires on a power line, causing the basket to catch fire before plummeting to the ground.
— Phuket Gazette Editors
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