British Airways is to resume flights to Libya on May 1, despite the Foreign Office continuing to advise against non-essential travel to the country.
The airline suspended its services to Tripoli, the Libyan capital, last February following the outbreak of civil war. Although hostilities officially ended in October, with NATO lifting its no-fly zone over the country, BA has spent the last few months assessing the security risks of returning to the country.
“We are delighted to be returning to Libya,” said Keith Williams, chief executive of the airline. “Our flights to Tripoli have provided a vital economic link for many years, and it is good news for everyone that we can now restart operations.”
The Foreign Office still advises against all but essential travel to Tripoli and several other parts of the country, and against all travel to the rest of Libya, meaning it is still likely to remain off limits to ordinary travellers.
Several operators, including Exodus, Abercrombie and Kent and Responsible Travel, have previously offered trips to Libya, usually including a sightseeing tour of Tripoli and a visit to the ancient Roman ruins of Leptis Magna.
A spokesman for Responsible Travel said it would continue to run its trips in accordance with the Foreign Office's recommendations.
"Until such time as the Foreign Office advice changes significantly, it is unlikely that any trips to Libya will resume," he said.
BA will fly from Heathrow to Tripoli three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursday and Sunday.
Several other European airlines, including Alitalia, have already resumed flights to the city. Air France will restart its services on March 27.