Algeria has banned French military aircraft from crossing its airspace, the spokesperson for the French General Staff of the Armed Forces told AFP.
“This morning, by filing the flight plans for two planes, we learned that the Algerians were closing overflights of their territory to French military planes,” said Colonel Pascal Ianni on October 3, 2021. “This does not affect operations or intelligence missions [led by French forces in the Sahel].”
As a consequence of the airspace ban, the two logistic flights planned for October 3, 2021, were suspended.
French Air Force aircraft usually fly through Algeria to reach the Sahel-Saharan region where the French military and its allies are deployed to fight Islamic insurgents as part of Operation Barkhane. A recent report by the French Parliament said that around 1,000 flight hours through Algeria were authorized in 2019.
Without this direct access, the routes of these support flights will likely have to go via Morocco and Mauritania, increasing their flight time.
For now, commercial flights between Algeria and France carried out by Air France and Transavia appear unaffected.
The decision of the Algerian authorities followed a declaration of French President Emmanuel Macron, reported by Le Monde, in which he denounced Algeria’s “completely rewritten […] official history,” which “is not based on the truth” but on “a narrative which relies on a hatred of France.”
The northern African country recalled its ambassador after describing the comments of the French President as an “inadmissible interference in its internal affairs.”
In an unrelated row, Algeria closed its airspace to all civilian and military Moroccan aircraft on September 22, 2021. The two Maghreb countries are involved in a diplomatic dispute over the status of Western Sahara, which Morocco considers part of its national territory.