Airport in Libya’s capital reopens after closure due to clashes

A plane flies over Mitiga airport in this file photo.(Reuters)
Updated 20 January 2018
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Airport in Libya’s capital reopens after closure due to clashes

TRIPOLI: The only functioning airport in the Libyan capital reopened on Saturday after a five-day closure caused by deadly clashes that left passenger jets damaged.
Mitiga airport, located just east of Tripoli city center, appeared to be operating normally, with both departures and arrivals areas busy with passengers.
“All domestic and international flights have ...resumed,” said an airport official who asked not to be named for security reasons. “No technical problems have been reported and security is under control.”
Fighting on Monday pitted the Special Deterrence Force (SDF), which is aligned with the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), and an armed group based in the nearby Tajoura district.
At least 20 people were killed and 60 wounded. The four Libyan airlines operating out of Mitiga have been rushing to repair or replace aircraft that were hit by gunfire or artillery while parked there during the battle.
Flights to evacuate or repatriate foreign migrants from Tripoli, which are mainly operated by UN agencies, were suspended because of Mitiga’s closure.
Tripoli has frequently been shaken by clashes between armed groups since Libya slid into chaos and violence following the overthrow of Mummar Qaddafi in 2011. Under the GNA, several large groups have expanded their power and the situation remains fragile.
Tripoli’s main international airport was badly damaged by fighting in 2014 and is still out of service.


Lebanon bank deposits up 4% on year

Updated 12 min 34 sec ago
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Lebanon bank deposits up 4% on year

BEIRUT: Bank deposits in Lebanon have risen by 4 percent on the year, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said on Thursday, and he maintained his economic growth outlook for 2018 at 2 percent.

In July Salameh had said he expected bank deposits to grow by more than 5 percent in 2018.

In October the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) halved their growth outlook to one percent for Lebanon, where public debt is about 150 percent of gross domestic product.

“Lebanese banks have succeeded in maintaining foreign exchange inflows into their sector supported by (the central bank),” Salmeh said in a televised speech at a Beirut economic conference.

With growth low and traditional sources of foreign exchange — tourism, real estate and foreign investment — undermined by years of regional tension, Lebanon increasingly relies on dollars expatriate Lebanese deposit in local banks.

The banks buy government debt, which finances the country’s eye-watering public debt and twin deficits.

The central bank also brings in dollars through complex financial operations with local banks to boost foreign currency reserves needed to defend the Lebanese pound’s peg to the dollar.

However, deposits have been growing at a slower rate since war broke out in neighboring Syria in 2011, and deposit growth rates are closely watched.