Air Transport World

To evade an embargo; Libyan Arab Airlines wants to update its fleet to meet a rise of tourism but a U.S. high-tech ban is in the way. (company profile)

TRIPOLI-WITH Libya beginning an effort to end its long isolation from much of the non-arab world and launching a modest campaign to attract foreign tourists, libyan Arab Airlines is preparing for an upswing in its international traffic. But planning is hampered by the continued existence of the U.S. embargo on the export of high-technology equipment to the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamawriya, the country's official name. Until the airline is able to modernize its fleet, implementation of its expansion plans will be difficult.

LAA's fleet-modernization program was thwarted first in the early 1980s when the U.S. refused to issue an export license for three Boeing 747s that were being prepared for delivery; crews already had completed their training. In 1984, six Airbus A300s and four A310s were ordered but not delivered because of the embargo. A later attempt to circumvent the embargo and obtain Airbus equipment was more successful.

This involved the acquisition-through intermediaries-of two A310-200s previously operated by British Caledonian Airways and the training of crews by Swissair. However, after diplomatic intervention instigated by the U.S., the two aircraft were leased to Air Algerie and subsequently leased back to LAA. Painted in colors of the Algerian airline but with LAA crews in the cockpit, they are operating on the Libyan carrier's routes.

In addition to the two A310s, LAA operates 10 727s, five 707s-three passenger, two cargo-three Fokker F28s and 16 F27s. …

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