Afriqiyah merger would create stronger carrier: Libyan CEO

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Libyan Airlines believes its long-proposed merger with Afriqiyah Airways will provide the carriers with a stronger platform on which to compete.

Both airlines are already under a single holding company, Libyan African Aviation, but have yet to proceed to full integration.

"We are trying to work something out with Afriqiyah," Libyan Airlines chief Mohamed Ibsem told ATI at last week's African Airlines Association meeting in Maputo.

"Initially we will codeshare and then we will go into one airline, through a merger, to make the business worthwhile.

"We feel that being together, as a big airline, will offer lots of opportunities. While we are separate, people treat us as small airlines.

"I think after the merger we will be in a better condition to compete and negotiate with the 'mega-carriers'. The idea is for this to take place within two years."

Combined, Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways would operate a fleet of some 35 aircraft, including 16 long-haul jets. Ibsem adds: "I imagine our network would go up to around 50 destinations when we merge, but that would be certain to increase later on."

He also hopes that a merger might eventually lead to alliance opportunities for the joint airline.