The Afriqiyah Airways said one of its planes was vandalized in Mitiga Airport in Tripoli when it was preparing to transport 250 injured fighters of Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos forces on Tuesday.
On Facebook, the airliner company said a group of people was seen vandalizing the plane in the Tripoli-based Mitiga airport by deflating the tires of the Airbus A330-300 on purpose, pointing out that the group’s aims were merely sabotage-oriented and against humanitarianism.
Afriqiyah Airways said the Mitiga Airport officials bear the whole responsibility of the incident, saying it is ready to take the necessary measures if the incident was shelved, as it would affect the provision of its services to customers.
“This vandalism will definitely badly affect the flights route from Mitiga airport due to the repetitiveness of such violations and thus renders the airport as inappropriate for international flights as per some countries’ criteria.
As a result, flights at Mitiga Airport were partially suspended after an armed group stormed the Operations Control Center at Tripoli International Airport in Qasir Ben Ghashir district and ordered the air controllers, at gunpoint, to divert 5 flights that were scheduled to arrive in Mitiga Airport to Misrata International Airport.
Flights at Mitiga Airport were resumed hours after the suspension.
Sources in Mitiga Airport said the plane tires were intentionally punctured by an armed group to prevent it from flying to Turkey. They accused Afriqiyah Airways of taking advantage of the current situation of wounded fighters to hand over the plane to Turkish Airlines as per a lease agreement between both airliners.
In March 2015, Afriqiyah Airways leased its Airbus A330-300 airplane to Turkish Airlines for eight years, but then-salvation government deemed the agreement illegal and ordered the brand new airplane to stay at Mitiga Airport.