By Enyichukwu Enenanna
Air France has announced the suspension of flights to and from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, as well as Bamako in Mali until Aug. 11.
This is in response to the closure of airspace on Sunday by Niger junta, with longer flight times expected in the west African region.
Air France announced the development on Monday, a report by Reuters says.
Niger military junta headed by General Abdourahamane Tchiani had cited “threat of intervention” apparently from ECOWAS regional bloc as reason for the closure of its airspace on Sunday.
“The closure of Niger’s airspace dramatically widens the area over which most commercial flights between Europe and southern Africa cannot fly,” FlightRadar24, a flight tracking service, said in a blog post.
“Flights must already take a detour of sorts around Libya and Sudan.
“With Niger’s airspace now off limits as well, airlines flying between Europe and southern Africa will need to reroute and add 1000 or more extra kilometers to their flights, increasing the amount of fuel each flight will need and the flight time.”
The news agency quoted an Air France spokesperson as saying that the airline expected longer flight times from sub-Saharan hub airports and that flights between Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and Accra in Ghana were set to operate non-stop.
A spokesperson for Brussels Airlines added that flight times could be between an hour and a half to three and a half hours longer for rerouted flights and could include a fuel stop, Reuters said.