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Niger coup forces British Airways flight back to Nairobi

A British Airways (BA) flight was forced to return to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi on Monday after being in the skies for two hours following the closure of Niger’s airspace by the junta on Sunday.

The airline confirmed the incident saying that flight BA64, which left Kenya’s capital on Sunday at 11:10 pm was forced to make a U-turn to JKIA, two hours three minutes after takeoff.

The flight, which landed at the capital at 5:17am on Monday was initially headed to London’s Heathrow Airport.

“The unexpected closure of Niger airspace has meant that a handful of flights that normally operate over Africa have been disrupted by the closure. The situation was outside of our control and we’ve apologised to our customers,” said a representative from British Airways in a response to Business Daily queries on Monday.

The disruptions come at a time Libya and Sudan’s airspace are facing geopolitical disruption, with some flights facing up to 1,000 kilometres in detours.

As of Monday, Air France had suspended flights to and from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso and Bamako in Mali until August 11, the company said on Monday, with longer flight times expected in the West African region.

A spokesperson added that Air France 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.

African Airlines Association communications manager Maureen Kahonge said the closure of Niger airspace will negatively impact airline operations.

In the short term, airlines flying between Europe and southern Africa will need to reroute and this will translate to extra kilometres to their flights, more fuel burn and flight time.

Source: thecitizen.co.tz

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