Air France Suspends Flights To Mali, Burkina Faso Amidst Niger’s Airspace Closure
Air France's Suspension of Flights to Mali and Burkina Faso Raises Concerns Over Airspace Security and Travel Disruptions
Air France, the French national carrier, has taken the decision to suspend its flights to and from Bamako in Mali and Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.
The suspension, as reported by Reuters, is set to last until August 11, 2023.
This comes a day after Niger’s military rulers announced the closure of the country’s airspace due to the “threat of intervention”.
This action has significant implications for commercial flights between Europe and southern Africa, as it dramatically widens the area where such flights cannot operate.
FlightRadar24, a leading flight tracking service, highlighted the impact of Niger’s airspace closure on the flight routes. Already, flights between Europe and southern Africa have been taking detours around Libya and Sudan.
With the additional restriction on Niger’s airspace, airlines will now need to reroute their flights, adding over 1000 kilometers or more to their journey.
This not only increases the fuel consumption for each flight but also extends the flight time, causing inconvenience to passengers and posing logistical challenges for airlines.
Air France’s spokesperson commented on the situation, expressing concerns over longer flight times from sub-Saharan hub airports. To mitigate the effects of rerouting, flights between Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and Accra in Ghana are scheduled to operate non-stop.
Meanwhile, Brussels Airlines also weighed in on the matter, stating that rerouted flights could potentially take between an hour and a half to three and a half hours longer than usual. Additionally, some flights might require a fuel stop to accommodate the increased distance, leading to further disruptions for travelers.
The situation has garnered attention and concern among industry experts and travelers alike. It underscores the importance of addressing security challenges in the region while also considering the impact on air travel and the necessary adjustments airlines must make to ensure safety and efficiency.
As the suspension remains in effect until August 11, passengers planning to travel to or from Bamako and Ouagadougou during this period are advised to closely monitor updates from Air France and other airlines involved, as well as consider potential alternative travel arrangements.
Authorities are likely to continue assessing the security situation to determine whether further extensions or changes to flight schedules may be necessary in the coming days.