The French airline will not connect the capitals of Bamako and of Ouagadougou before August 18 inclusive, “following the coup in Niger and due to the geopolitical situation in the Sahel region”she said on Friday.
The carrier announced on Monday a suspension of its flights to Mali and Burkina Faso until Friday inclusive, shortly after the closure of the‘airspace of Niger neighbor. The Malian and Burkinabè authorities gave their support to the perpetrators of the July 26 coup in Niger. The West African countries of ECOWAS gave the green light on Thursday to the use of force to restore ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, without however excluding diplomatic means to resolve the crisis.
The closure of Niger’s airspace is forcing companies to make major detours to reach Europe, extending the flight time. Air France says to be “in contact with the French authorities” pursue “permanently changing the geopolitical situation of the territories served and overflown by its aircraft” and remember that “the safety of its customers and its crews is its top priority”.
This closure comes on top of a swath of African airspace facing geopolitical disruptions, including Libya and at Sudanwith some flights having to make detours of up to 1,000 kilometers (620 miles).
Air France is the main operator between Europe and Africa with 33 destinations and more than 3 million passengers per year (excluding North Africa). In total, more than half of the Sahelian airspace is thus closed to commercial flights, which obliges the companies to pass either by the route of the Red Sea to the East, or by that of theWest Africa and Moroccoat the cost of delays and additional costs.