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Niger airspace closure extends flight routes, raises costs

The closure of Niger’s airspace since Sunday has resulted in longer and more fuel-consuming flights for multiple airlines.

It adds at least two hours of additional flight time or up to 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) for most flights from Europe to the south of the continent.

Niger’s junta closed the airspace following the threat of military action from the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, if President Mohamed Bazoum was not reinstated.

The announcement was made while some flights were already in the air and they had to be re-routed while others had to fly back to their departure points.

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Harriet Sergeant was traveling on a British Airways flight from Nairobi on Sunday night.

“We had gone to sleep… About four hours later, the captain woke us up and told us that we had to return because Niger had closed its airspace… There was simply not enough fuel to go around. So we had to go back, which was a really terrible feeling,” she said.

Flights had already been avoiding Libyan and Sudanese airspace.

Sudan’s ban on flights went into effect following the conflict there.

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Multiple European countries including Germany, France and the UK as well as the US and Canada, prohibit their civil aircraft from operating in Libyan airspace.

Airlines will now have to alter their operations to accommodate the extra kilometres to their flights. which will increase the amount of fuel each flight will need adding to the costs.

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