Commercial flights between Guinea and Senegal resumed yesterday after Senegal closed its airspace to its southern neighbour following the grounding of a Senegalese Airlines aircraft in Guinea.
“Senegal Airlines has the pleasure of announcing the resumption of commercial flights to Conakry,” read a statement from the airline.
The Guinean civil aviation authority grounded the Senegalese aircraft on Monday after claiming payment arrears from the former Senegalese national carrier Air Senegal International (ASI). Senegal’s government said in a statement that the move was illegal as ASI had been a partnership between the Senegalese government and Royal Air Maroc while the new carrier, Senegal Airlines, was majority private-owned. Senegal Airlines commenced flights in late January, 18 months after ASI collapsed.
Guinea’s Civil Aviation chief Diante Keita played down the problem saying there was “no crisis between the two countries.”
He said when ASI went bankrupt, the company owed US$140 000 to the organisation which controls the airspace between Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, which should have been paid by October 31. “We only wanted to recuperate funds owed to us by the Senegalese company,” Keita said.
“As a result of the attitude of the Guinean authorities, Senegalese civil aviation has taken the decision to close Senegalese airspace for all planes that are travelling to or coming from Guinea,” the ministry overseeing air transport said early this week. The ban came into effect on Tuesday.
The row was the latest in a series of spats between the West African neighbours after Guinean President Alpha Conde accused Senegal of being complicit in a failed attempt to assassinate him in July. Dakar has denied any role in the attacks on Conde in July.
Conde said the attacks against him were planned at one of Senegal’s top hotels, where his chief political rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo, has been staying, and it would have been impossible for the Senegalese authorities not to be aware of them.