Lufthansa: Libya not refusing entry to European visitors


Libya has given no sign of refusing entry to more travellers from Europe than usual, the German airline Lufthansa said in Frankfurt as a Swiss-Libyan row escalated.

The airline’s report comes in the wake of a reported ban on EU citizens entering the north African country, as a row between Libya and Switzerland escalates.

The row is connected to Switzerland’s reported blacklisting of 188 Libyan nationals, including Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi and his family, effectively preventing them visiting any of 25 European nations covered by the Schengen agreement.

Relations between Switzerland and Libya have soured since July 2008, when police in Geneva took Gaddafi’s son, Hannibal, and his wife in for questioning following a complaint that they had abused domestic staff at their hotel.

Lufthansa, which owns the airline Swiss, said it was continuing its usual passenger service to the Libyan capital Tripoli.

A Monday flight from Frankfurt to Tripoli carried 58 passengers of whom four were denied entry for no obvious reason, but a refusal by Libyan border authorities to let in certain passengers was not unusual. Those refused returned to Germany with the same plane.

Lufthansa said all the other passengers, the bulk of them from the European Union, were admitted to Libya.

Tuesday’s Lufthansa flight was due to carry 91 passengers to Tripoli.

The airline commented a day after the European Commission deplored what it called “the unilateral and disproportionate decision by Libyan authorities to suspend the delivery of visas to EU Schengen countries’ citizens.”

The Swiss have not publicly confirmed the ban. Although it is not in the European Union, Switzerland is part of the Schengen free-movement area, meaning its visa rules apply to the whole zone.