Libya is considering plans to merge its two state-owned airlines, Libyans Airways and Afriqiyah Airlines, according to Awad Ibrahim Elbarasi, Libya’s deputy prime minister, speaking at a MEED Libya projects press conference in Dubai on 18 April.

“We are hiring a consultant to carry out a feasibility study for the merger of Libya’s two airlines. It doesn’t make sense at the moment. We have two carriers that sometimes fly to the same destination on the same day,” said Elbarasi.

Tripoli had planned to privatise Libyan Airways and merge it with Afriqiyah Airlines in 2010, but the deal was delayed by the outbreak of Libya’s revolution.

Along with the airline merger, there is a consultancy tender for Libya’s three major airports at Tripoli, Benghazi and Sirte. The consultant will review the plans and then proceed.

The new airports are scheduled to be ready in time for the Coupe d’Afrique des Nations (CAN), football tournament, which will be held in Libya for the second time in 2017. This is only the second major football competition played in Libya since 1982. It was scheduled to host the competition this year, but ongoing instability in the country led to a swap deal with South Africa.

Elbarasi is the president of Libya’s 2017 CAN committee. The event will be staged at 11 stadiums across the country.

He did not state the total level of investment required for the tournament, but said LD400m will be required for stadium rebuilding this year. This money will be separate from the Youth and Sports Ministry’s own spending. “We will resume construction in the middle of 2013,” said Elbarasi.

“We hope the tournament will do for Libya what Nelson Mandela was able to do with the Rugby World Cup in South Africa to unify the country. The Minister of Interior is a member of the committee. This shows how seriously we are taking security,” said Elbarasi.

Selecting the venues will not be easy, however. “All the major cities want to host stadiums, so we don’t know what to do at the moment,” added Elbarasi.