Due to the closure of Niger’s airspace on Sunday night, airlines were forced to reroute flights, causing delays for passengers flying between London and Johannesburg, as well as other African destinations. This partial closure of airspace had a domino effect on flight paths throughout the region.
Among the airlines affected was British Airways, which had to change its operations due to Niger’s airspace restrictions. This unexpected change impacted several flights between London and key African cities, including Nairobi, Cape Town, and Johannesburg. As a result, major airlines such as Air France, KLM, and Deutsche Lufthansa AG experienced diversions and delays.
British Airways apologised for the inconvenience caused by the airspace closure via social media. Due to Niger’s airspace restrictions, a specific flight from London Heathrow to Johannesburg was forced to divert. The airline apologised to the affected passengers and assured them that efforts were being made to minimise the disruption and get them back on their way as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Air France announced via email that all services to Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso had been temporarily suspended. The suspension is expected to last until August 11, with longer flight durations ranging from 15 minutes to 2 hours on routes to and from various sub-Saharan destinations.
The closure of Niger’s airspace created difficulties for carriers flying between Europe and southern Africa. According to flight tracking service FlightRadar24, the sudden airspace restrictions elongated flight paths, adding an extra hour or more to certain journeys.
Airspace restrictions are not limited to Niger; Sudan and Libya also have restricted airspace, forcing commercial aircraft to take longer routes and allocate more fuel accordingly. FlightRadar24 data show that some flights were mid-route when Niger’s airspace shut down, necessitating diversions or re-routing to accommodate the situation.
The country’s junta ordered the closure of Niger’s airspace, citing concerns about potential foreign attacks. West African neighbours had set a deadline for the restoration of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, threatening intervention if it was not met. The junta, which took power following a coup on July 26, resisted calls for democratic restoration and foreign intervention. Hundreds of protesters gathered in Niger’s capital, Niamey, over the weekend to show their support for the coup leaders.
The junta of Niger declared on state television that the airspace restrictions would remain in effect until further notice. This action not only hampered air travel, but also sparked debates about regional stability and diplomatic interactions in the face of political upheaval.
Main Image: The Independent