Libyan carrier Afriqiyah Airways is to expand services to English- speaking and other French-speaking markets in West Africa and Europe, as it fills the void in the market left by the collapse of Air Afrique and the withdrawal of SN Brussels Airlines.

The privately owned airline already operates connecting services from West Africa through its Tripoli hub to Brussels, and is now "planning to fly to Europe's other French-speaking centres - Geneva and Paris", says legal director Mohammed Gaddah. The airline's African destinations include Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Mali, Niger, Sudan and Togo.

Gaddah says that while the airline's first priority is to expand its services to francophone Africa, the next step is to move into anglophone countries in the region. This will start with a service to Nigeria, and a matching flight to London, conditional on Libyan government approval.

The airline operates two Airbus A320s wetleased from Tunis Air, having recently returned two Boeing 737-400s to Blue Panorama. More A320s will be leased if the Nigerian service goes ahead, says Gaddah.

He adds that he does not see flag carrier Libyan Arab Airlines as a rival as it deals mainly with national traffic: "It only operates point to point while most of our passengers are in the transfer market - we are not concentrating on the domestic market," he says.

Source: Flight International