When in November 2017, Spanish regional carrier Air Nostrum acquired the majority shareholding of Mediterranean Aviation (Medavia) the news came as a complete surprise to many aviation pundits. Med-Ops was the brainchild of Medavia’s CEO Rammah Ettir and the top brass at Air Nostrum. With its Libyan majority shareholding Medavia was in breach of EU rules and thus needed to find a trustworthy European partner. The list of suitors was quite long, including a number of Maltese investors, however the decision was made to arrange a marriage of convenience with the Spanish regional carrier. Medavia’s clout in Libya is enormous. Rammah Ettir, who is an aeronautical engineer by profession enjoys huge respect in the country and has held senior positions at Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah among others. Air Nostrum would have never been in a position to penetrate the Libyan market without its Maltese partner. Some ten years ago, Bristow Helicopters had managed to set foot in Libya, thanks to a deal with Medavia, a market which the Redhill based company had been pursuing for years at the time.
With the current blanket embargo on 5A- registered aircraft the new MedLib venture could be the springboard for something much larger. In 2007, Medavia had revealed plans to fly regional routes on behalf of Air Malta. The plan came to nought, after internal resistance within the Maltese national carrier. The company has ample experience with the Bombardier line of products, and would likely favour the Q400 over the ATR 72-600. This may also boil down to the fact that the Q400 can land on some desert strips which the 72-600 would not have access to. It is to be expected that at a later stage, MedLib will likely start flying the CRJ family of aircraft which is so close to Air Nostrum’s heart.
Putting two brilliant minds together, that of Carlos Bertomeu and Rammah Ettir together, the end result – MedLib – is most likely to be a huge success. The new Libyan venture is likely to lead the way in connecting the vast country to the rest of the world in a safe and stable manner. As things stand, Med-Ops flies to Libya on behalf of two travel agencies using either the Dash 8-100 or the B1900D in the fleet. The Minister for Tourism Dr Konrad Mizzi revealed some weeks ago that Air Malta was actively looking at re-starting flights to the North African country. The perennial question is – Will MedOps and MedLib lead to closer cooperation on certain routes with Air Malta ?. Will the discussions frozen more than 12-years ago be the basis of some form of new agreement ? Only time will tell but the Scramble for Libya has definitely begun.