Libyan Airlines is considering a major expansion of its route network in Africa and the Far East.

The North African carrier has been undergoing a protracted merger process with fellow Libyan operator Afriqiyah Airways. This is anticipated to be completed later this year, which will give the combined airline a fleet of around 45 aircraft.

Both airlines are currently not flying to Europe under a voluntary restriction following discussions late last year between the Libyan Civil Aviation Authority (LYCAA) and the European Union (EU) Air Safety Committee. The self-imposed ban was instituted as a result of continuing internal disruption in Libya following the ouster of the Gaddafi regime and the need to recertify many Libyan pilots. LYCAA opted for the voluntary restriction rather than have a formal ban imposed on it by the EU.

Talks are underway between the Libyan and EU authorities to resolve the situation and Libyan Airline sources tell ATW that an agreement is anticipated to be reached by mid-year.

Any commercial flights on behalf of Libyan carriers to the EU are being handled by carriers from other nations under wet-lease arrangements.

In the interim, Libyan is pressing ahead with plans to expand its route network. African destinations under consideration—with possible mid-2014 launch dates—include Johannesburg, Lagos, Accra and Khartoum.

Similarly, growing trade links between China and Libya are attracting attention as a possible market, sources tell ATW. There are substantial numbers of Chinese workers helping the North African nation develop industries, such as power generation, while Libya is importing increasing quantities of materials, such as furnishings and clothes from the Asian economic powerhouse.

Specific Chinese destinations have not yet been identified.