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Mali: Air France resumes its flights after 2 months of suspension

Mali: Air France resumes its flights after 2 months of suspension
Air France planes parked on the tarmac at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, Roissy, near Paris, May 17, 2019.   -  
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Christophe Ena/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved.


Air France will resume serving Mali from Friday, but with a plane and crews from a third party company, the air carrier announced on Tuesday, which had suspended this route at the beginning of August in the wake of the putsch in neighboring Niger.

“In coordination with the French DGAC (Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Editor’s note) and the Malian authorities, Air France will resume service to Bamako from Paris-Charles de Gaulle from October 13, 2023,” said a spokesperson . from the company to the AFP.

Air France suspended its flights to Mali (seven per week) and Burkina Faso (five) on August 7 after the closure of the airspace of neighboring Niger, the scene of a coup d'état on July 26.

“Air France is working in close collaboration with the Burkinabè authorities in order to resume its service to Burkina Faso as quickly as possible. The service to Niamey (Niger) remains suspended until further notice,” the company added on Tuesday.

Service to Bamako from Paris will resume at the rate of "three direct flights per week (Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays)", according to the same source. In addition, the flights sold by Air France will no longer be operated by the company's planes, but by "a Boeing 777-200 ER from the Portuguese company EuroAtlantic Airways", Air France indicated.

The crew will also be made up of employees of this company which, in addition to regular flights, offers rental and charter services.

Air France promised that this aircraft met "in every respect French and European regulations", and explained that it was "equipped with 30 seats in the Business cabin, 24 seats in the Premium Economy cabin and 239 in the Economy cabin".

“The services provided on board will be the same as on flights operated by Air France. Customers whose flights are canceled will be transferred to maintained flights or will be able to modify the reservation offered to them free of charge,” according to the same source.

From a source close to the matter, the choice of a third-party company and crews to operate this connection is explained by the fact that the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs " formally" advises against the French going to Mali, including members of crew, due to the tense security situation.

In March, Air France's first pilots' union, the SNPL, called on its members to "exercise their right of withdrawal", if they wished, to no longer fly to Bamako.

The previous month, the American federal agency overseeing aviation (FAA) had cited an “increased risk” for commercial aircraft serving or flying over Mali “at all altitudes” due to the installation of anti-missile batteries. aerial attacks by the Russian mercenary group Wagner.

After the suspension of Paris-Bamako connections by Air France, the Malian authorities decided on August 11 to cancel the company's authorization to operate this line.

These authorities, whose military leaders showed solidarity with the Nigerien putschists, had described the suspension as a "notorious breach" of the terms of the operating authorization granted to the company.

Relations between France, the former colonial power that was engaged militarily alongside the Malian army against the jihadists since 2013, and Mali have deteriorated significantly since colonels took power by force in Bamako in August 2020.

The junta pushed French forces out in 2022 and turned politically and militarily towards Russia. She expelled the French ambassador.

“Air France constantly monitors the evolution of the geopolitical situation in the territories served and overflown by its aircraft and reminds that the safety of its customers and crews is its absolute priority,” concluded its spokesperson on Tuesday.

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