2011, The Arab Spring.
Rarely do events on the ground not have some bearing on flight operations. The rapid escalation of rebellion in Libya was no exception.
Hot on the heels of unrest in Egypt, the movement to overthrow Libya’s leader gained momentum quickly. Sporadic protests gave way to a measured insurgency, and countries around the globe put plans in place to evacuate their citizens. World Air Ops was at the heart of it.
For one such flight, our client was a Dutch charter operator contracted to evacuate several hundred Dutch citizens from numerous sites around the country. The aircraft was ready to fly from Malta, the hurdle: obtaining a Landing Permit. Normally, permits are run of the mill work. We organise overflight, landing, diplomatic, military, charter, and special permits around the world every day as part of our flight operations, without issue. Short notice is also no stranger to us.
For a country entering a state of war though, the rules change – but our ethos is that whatever can be done, will be done. Our regular contacts on the ground in Tripoli were fast dwindling, and the situation changing by the hour. The CAA had closed, the UK Embassy, the US Embassy both left the country. NATO supported us but had no authority. We needed approval from a Libyan government that was concerned with other matters. The task was difficult, but the job got done.
“World Air Ops managed to arrange landing permits for our flight by combining the influences of several foreign embassies. None of these embassies had managed to arrange for landing permits on their own. The staff of World Air Ops did not stop working that night until the permits had actually been issued. On behalf of our company, and the people involved in this Libya project, I’d like to thank you for your perseverance and ability to deliver the impossible.” Michel Sneekes, Director Ground Operations, Denim Air ACMI.