The so-called Arab Spring political upheaval across North Africa and parts of the Middle East has also been a significant disruptor of airline business in the region. The most seriously impacted were Libyan carriers Afriqiyah Airways and Libyan Airlines, which had aircraft destroyed or damaged by NATO air strikes against the former government of the late Col. Muammar Gaddafi.
By the time that Tripoli fell with surprising ease to rebel forces, NATO had flown more than 20,000 sorties during Operation Unified Protector. More than one third of these were strike missions, although weapons were not released on every sortie.
The coalition of nations flying over Libya to protect civilians under UN Resolution 1973 is still flying some 150 sorties daily. Countries contributing aircraft are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Qatar, the Netherlands, Spain, the UAE, the UK and the U.S.
The air campaign over Libya has rekindled the debate about what exactly air power can accomplish without “boots on the ground.”
Effective last month, the FAA lifted its long-time prohibition against most flight operations to and from Libya, as well as overflight restrictions. These limitations have been in effect in varying degrees since 1986 as part of U.S. sanctions against Libya after it was blamed for the bombing of a Berlin disco that killed two U.S. servicemen and wounded 79 Americans. The U.S.