ATfter several hours of confusion, Air France finally announced on Wednesday January 12 the suspension of its links with Mali “with immediate effect”, after Paris followed Ecowas’ footsteps to sanction the ruling junta.
“Pursuant to the decisions of the French authorities, Air France is suspending its flights to and from Mali with immediate effect and until further notice,” the French company told Agence France-Presse. “Consequently, flight AF4142 of January 12 providing the Paris (CDG) -Bamako (BKO) -Nouakchott (NKC) -Paris (CDG) route and flight AF4141 Bamako (BKO) -Paris (CDG) are canceled”, according to the same source. In addition, “flights to and from Bamako scheduled for the following days will also be canceled. Air France is monitoring the situation in real time and will keep its customers informed of the possibilities of rerouting once the suspension has been lifted “, added the company, stressing that” the customers concerned [étaient] informed individually ”.
A highly political decision, since it was French President Emmanuel Macron who decided, at the end of a defense council on January 12, in the wake of the sanctions of the ECOWAS States, to suspend the flights of the Air France company from and to Mali. The idea is to increase the pressure on the Malian authorities. Under French leadership, the European Union should also take sanctions against the West African country, assured Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. “We are going to offer to support African decisions, to take them over for some of them,” said the French foreign minister in an interview with AFP. “We will discuss it in Brest (north-west of France) tomorrow” during an informal meeting of European defense and foreign ministers “but the most likely hypothesis is that this will be followed”, a- he assured, while France has been providing since the 1er January the rotating biannual presidency of the European Union. The situation in Mali and the Sahel is an African and European affair, it is no longer a Franco-Malian affair, argued Mr. Le Drian, referring to the participation of 10 European countries in the Takuba group of special forces deployed in the Mali at the initiative of France.
Anger of the Malian diaspora in France after the cancellation of today’s Air France flight (after 10 hours of waiting)
“No more air links between the #France and the #Mali from today and until further notice “Personal @AirFranceFR Paris airport. pic.twitter.com/UVKjs62XTn
– Sega DIARRAH (@segadiarrah) January 12, 2022
Anger in Bamako
The reaction of the Malian authorities was not long in coming. The Minister of Transport and Infrastructures, Dembelé Madina Sissoko, speaks of a “sudden decision”, taken without consultation and “without justification”. She also regrets “the inconvenience caused to air transport users”. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Sunday decreed the closure of the borders with Mali and a trade and financial embargo, harshly sanctioning the junta’s plan to continue to lead the country for several years.
Besides Air France, several other airlines have decided to follow the decision to close air borders announced by ECOWAS. These are the companies Ethiopian Airlines and Mauritania Airlines, whose direct flights to Bamako were canceled Monday and Tuesday as well as Asky Airlines, Air Côte d’Ivoire, Air Burkina and Air Senegal.
The junta on Tuesday called on the Malians to demonstrate Friday, January 14 against these sanctions, while saying it was open to dialogue. In the meantime, it is on social networks that users and Internet users are complaining about the situation.
Is Air France part of ECOWAS to apply its sanctions ?? Ah politics is big nonsense.
In this case, Air France will lose seriously. Bamako was 2 flights a day 7 days a week. https://t.co/K2XnT0QegG
– Dr Djamila Ferdjani (@DrDjamilaF) January 13, 2022
I want the title completely info:
Air France notifies Mali of the suspension of its flights to and from Bamako.
It is embarrassing to see that France and ECOWAS have practically the same fight against Mali. It shouldn’t be that way. pic.twitter.com/uK7bS5gYrY
– #Aliou Sambou Bodian (@samboubodian) January 12, 2022