Niger is currently experiencing one of its largest military coups. This is the 7th military coup in West and Central Africa within three years. But now, the coup is also affecting air travel in and around the country. Air France and British Airways were forced to add up to 2 hours to their flight duration after Niger shut down its airspace.
Niger’s Airspace Shut Down Cuases Increase In Flight Durations
On August 6, Niger’s ruling military junta unexpectedly shut down the country’s airspace indefinitely. Causing flights between Europe and multiple African nations to experience extended durations, reported Business Insider.
This move comes in response to neighbouring nations’ demands for the reversal of the junta’s coup on July 26. As per FlightRadar24 reports, this limitation forces airlines, previously flying through Niger’s airspace to reach destinations with an extended timeline. Flights flying to destinations such as South Africa and Ghana have to now detour.
This has resulted in additional flight hours and potentially over 600 extra miles added to their already extensive voyages.
As per the report, a British Airways flight en route to London encountered the airspace closure and the plane chose to reverse course instead of diverting. In their statement to Bloomberg, Air France informed that they have halted operations in Niger indefinitely.
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How Many Airlines Has This Affected?
They anticipate extended flight durations, ranging from 15 minutes to two hours, for routes involving African nations. KLM’s routes to Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa, along with Entebbe in Uganda, are hit hardest, stated Business Insider.
A spokesperson added that flights to Accra, Ghana, and Lagos, Nigeria, will see less impact. Virgin Atlantic Airways, Lufthansa, and Swiss International Airlines are also steering clear of Niger, stated the report. Passengers are reportedly enduring longer flights due to detours, resulting in extra airtime.
These changes are causing airlines to face increased expenses in fuel and labour – the most costly aspects of their operations said the report. Niger’s airspace closure expands the no-fly zone in northern-central Africa for airlines, stated the report.
Sudan shut its airspace in July, but conflicts since April have led planes to divert around the country. Causing the same issue of longer route timings and expensive fuel refills.
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