Mali: Air France resumes its flights to Bamako

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Tuesday, 15 February 2022 18:18

A Malian soldier guards the tarmac as doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine arrive at the airport in Bamako, Mali, on March 5, 2021, as a part of the COVAX program
A Malian soldier guards the tarmac as doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine arrive at the airport in Bamako, Mali, on March 5, 2021, as a part of the COVAX program © ANNIE RISEMBERG/AFP

At first refused by the Élysée Palace, the French airlines flights to Mali are now back on. The result of intense lobbying.

On 10 January, the day after the decision of ECOWAS heads of state to close their borders with Mali, Air France had interrupted its 14 weekly flights to Bamako.

As revealed by Jeune Afrique on 25 January, Emmanuel Macron had informed the management of the company, which is 14% owned by the French state, that he did not want flights to this destination to resume immediately, given the severe sanctions imposed by the sub-regional organisation.

Notes to the Elysée

According to our information, Air France will resume flights to the country from 17 February.

The frequency of these flights has not yet been decided and should be specified in the coming days. The decision was taken on 11 February. The crews will exceptionally spend the night in Nouakchott, where the Mauritanian civil aviation authority has given its agreement.

The Quai d’Orsay has forbidden this for several years, but Air France has exceptionally obtained the green light from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The company’s staff can no longer sleep in Mali, Burkina and Niger where the terrorist threat is considered too great.

The Elysée initially predicted an interruption of several months. But Joel Meyer, still French ambassador in Bamako despite his expulsion by the Malian military junta on 31 January, has been pushing for the lifting of this sanction. In recent weeks he has sent several notes to the French presidency and the Quai d’Orsay in this regard.

The willingness to resume dialogue within ECOWAS, encouraged by the mediation of the African Union (AU) led by the President of the Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, has encouraged this softening on the part of the French authorities.

Since the closure of Air France flights, passengers wishing to leave Bamako could still fly with Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Mauritania Airlines and the local company Sky Mali.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options