The Italian government has agreed to reauthorise direct flights to/from Libya, with one carrier from each country to be allowed services from September 2023, the Prime Minister of the Libyan Government of National Unity (GNU), Abdul Hamid al-Dbeibeh, said.

The decision follows a government visit to Italy on June 7.

The Italian civil aviation authority (Ente Nazionale per l'Aviazione Civile - ENAC) did not respond to ch-aviation's request for confirmation.

ch-aviation understands that even if confirmed, the decision would only apply to Italian airlines and subject to designation. All Libyan airlines were proscribed by the European Commission in 2014 on safety grounds and remain banned from any operations in the bloc's airspace, including overflights. As the EU Air Safety List takes precedence over any domestic legislation, EU member states cannot unilaterally reauthorise Libyan carriers.

The Libyan authorities recently claimed that Malta had also agreed to lift its ban, but ch-aviation has since established that the step would be ineffectual until the European Commission lifts its ban. Libya has been lobbying Brussels for years to remove the designation but thus far, to no avail.

Both Malta and Italy have had historically close relations with Libya prior to the downfall of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and the subsequent civil war.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a Conflict Zone Information Bulletin (CZIB) advising against any flights to or over Libya, but the document is advisory and, in contrast to the EU Air Safety List, can be overridden by national rules. Greece and Malta are the only EU countries with direct scheduled flights to Libya. While Malta MedAir (MT, Malta International) operates to GNU-controlled Misurata and Tripoli Mitiga, Greece's Marathon Airlines (O8, Athens) flies to Benghazi, an eastern city under the control of rival Libyan National Army (LNA) forces.