Mali’s ruling junta announced that Air France will remain suspended from flying to and from the West African country indefinitely, pending the conclusion of a review of a previous authorization granted to French flag carrier airline.
Mali officials’ decision came a day after Air France announced it would resume flights to Mali beginning today, a service that had been halted in August, in response to the coup in neighboring Niger. According to French airline, it was planning to resume operations using a Boeing 777-200ER belonging to Portugal’s EuroAtlantic Airways, rather than its own aircraft.
Air France told AFP that its return to Bamako was “in coordination with the French Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) and the Malian authorities.”
However, the airline had to backtrack later, due to a lack of air traffic rights from the West African country’s government, announcing that it has postponed the resumption of flights to Bamako until further notice “following additional requests from the Malian authorities.”
According to the statement from Malian Transport Ministry, published by local media, Air France flights “were unilaterally suspended by the company without informing authorities and customers in a manner appropriate in advance,” and the ministry remains committed to “defending Mali’s sovereignty.”
Mali’s National Aeronautical Authority was still “examining the request to resume flights made by the airline Air France,” and “consequently, Air France flights remain suspended during this file examination procedure,” the ministry added.
Also, the director of Malian aviation agency, was fired by the government earlier this week, allegedly for negotiating Air France’s resumption of flights without the prior approval of the “highest authorities.”