Burkina Faso accuses France of 'serious breach' after suspension of flights

Burkina Faso accuses France of 'serious breach' after suspension of flights

French flag carrier suspended flights after coup-hit Niger closed its airspace

By Aurore Bonny

DOUALA, Cameroon (AA) - Burkina Faso's National Civil Aviation Agency on Thursday expressed concern over the suspension of flights by the French flag carrier, accusing it of breaching a bilateral agreement.

Air France on Monday suspended flights to and from Bamako and Ouagadougou, the capital cities of Mali and Burkina Faso respectively, until Aug. 11.

The decision came after coup-hit Niger announced the closure of its airspace, forcing expected longer flight durations in the West African region.

The suspension was made "suddenly and without prior notice," Thomas Hyacinthe Compaore, director of Burkina Faso's aviation authority, said in a statement.

He accused "a serious breach of articles 14 and 16 of the bilateral agreement signed on May 29, 1962 in Paris."

Compaore said the resumption of Air France's airline's activities would be conditional on a request for prior approval of a new flight schedule for the remainder of the 2023 summer season.

The West African countries of Mali and Burkina Faso are also going through transition periods following military coups. The military authorities in both countries have supported their counterparts in Niger against any intervention to free Mohamed Bazoum, the ousted president.

Accusing France of planning an intervention to this effect, and after ignoring an ultimatum from the West African bloc for the restoration of constitutional order, the Niger junta had shut the country's airspace. Paris, however, refuted the accusations.

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