Libya’s first private airline catches the Airbus

Libya’s Buraq Air has acquired its first Airbus A320 as it seeks to expand its services within and from the strife-wracked North African nation.

The Buraq Boeing 737-800

The Buraq Boeing 737-800. Picture: Buraq Air Wikimedia

Until recently the airline, which is based at Mitiga, outside the capital, Tripoli, has been a long-time Boeing 737 operator, having flown early -200 models in the early part of the century and now operating single examples of the 737-400 and -800.

However, the company has now picked up an 11-year-old model, previously mainly employed in the Far East, from a leasing company. According to Flightradar 24 data, the aircraft underwent pre-delivery maintenance at East Midlands Airport in the UK and was then ferried to Istanbul Atatürk Airport in Türkiye in September prior to being re-registered in Libya ahead of delivery to Libya in October.

Buraq Air – Its name comes from the buraq, a creature on which the prophet Mohammad is believed to have flown from Mecca to Jerusalem – lays claim to being the first privately-owned Libyan airline, established in November 2000, with its initial services connecting the country’s oilfields to its major cities.

International services followed, with its initial route being to Istanbul, followed by the development of a more comprehensive domestic network encompassing Labraq, Tobruk and Sebha. Aleppo in Syria and Rabat in Morocco followed.

Several variants of the 737 were acquired for these services and the company has been a faithful user of the US narrowbody since then, which makes the arrival of the new A320 more surprising, given the increased costs that will accrue from operating a single aircraft of a different type, with its different operating and maintenance requirements.

Buraq Air currently flies a small international scheduled network, notably to Istanbul, together with additional charter services to destinations such as Alexandria and Tunis.

Recent tasks have included repatriating Bangladeshi migrants who had illegally entered Libya and had been detained before being returned to their homeland. It has also undertaken flights in support of Canada-based helicopter operator CHC, which provides rotor-wing flights for oil companies.

Multiple attempts to contact the airline for more information on its new fleet addition went unanswered.

Alan Dron

Alan Dron

Alan Dron is air transport editor at Arabian Aerospace for which he has written since its launch.