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Air France says to restart flights to Mali

Air France will resume flights to Mali beginning on Friday, the airline said Tuesday, just over two months after suspending its service following a coup in neighbouring Niger. “In coordination with the French DGAC (Civil Aviation Authority) and Malian authorities, Air France will resume service to Bamako from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport from October 13, 2023,” a spokesman told AFP. Air France suspended flights to Mali and Burkina Faso after the airspace in neighbouring Niger was closed by the coup leaders, who seized power on July 26. The initial suspension was just for several days, but after the airline extended the suspension, citing the coup in Niger and the “geopolitical situation” in the Sahel region, Malian authorities revoked Air France’s permit as it said the move breached terms to operate the route. In a letter addressed to Air France and verified by AFP, Mali’s National Civil Aviation Agency said the company had not provided notice and caused “inconvenience to passengers”. “This failing entails the cancellation of your flight operating permit” for the summer season extending to October and other airlines could use the route, it added. The Air France spokesman said the airline was working with authorities in Burkina Faso to also restart flights. The service to Niger remains suspended until further notice. Air France said three flights per week to Mali would be operated by a company it has subcontracted, EuroAtlantic Airways, to service the route. Relations between Mali and former colonial power France have soured since a junta seized control in the West African country in 2020. Last year, French troops engaged in a decade-long battle against jihadist rebels left Mali, which has turned towards Russia and has backed the new military authorities in Niger.

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