Update: 4 Sep 2023
Niger’s airspace has officially reopened for the first time since early August, following a military coup in July. DRRR Notam A1096/23 states the Niamey FIR is now available at all levels – as long as your transponder stays on. Security on the ground is still a problem. The US continues to advise against all travel there.
DRRR A1096/23 - NIGER REPUBLIC AIRSPACE, FROM GROUND TO UNLIMITED, IS OPEN TO ALL INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS. THE NIAMEY ACC RESUMES NORMAL GROUND TO UNLIMITED SERVICE. HOWEVER, IT IS RECALLED THAT ADS-B AND/OR RADAR TRANSPONDERS MUST REMAIN ON FOR ANY FLIGHT TAKING PLACE IN THE NIGER REPUBLIC AIRSPACE. ON THE OTHER HAND, THE NIGER REPUBLIC AIRSPACE STILL REMAINS CLOSED FOR ALL MILITARY, OPERATIONAL AND OTHER SPECIAL FLIGHTS. THESE MILITARY OR SPECIAL FLIGHTS ARE ONLY PERMITTED SUBJECT TO PRIOR AUTHORIZATION FROM THE COMPETENT AUTHORITIES. 03 SEP 22:18 2023 UNTIL 04 DEC 23:59 2023 ESTIMATED. CREATED: 03 SEP 22:20 2023
Major airlines flying between Europe and West Africa have resumed overflying the DRRR/Niamey FIR.
Timeline of closures:
- 4 Sep: Airspace reopens
- 7 Aug – 4 Sep: Airspace closed.
- 31 July – 7 Aug: Airspace reopened.
- 26 July – 31 July: Airspace closed.
Niger’s airspace and airports were closed to all flights on July 26, following a military coup.
Troops announced a coup on national TV after detaining the president. They said they had dissolved the constitution, suspended all institutions and closed the nation’s land and air borders. Soon after the announcement, the several Notams appeared advising that the airspace over Niger was closed, along with all airports in the country.
Niger straddles two FIRs – DRRR/Niamey (controlled by Niger) and FTTJ/N’Djamena (controlled by Chad). But it was just the territory of Niger itself that was closed, not the whole DRRR/Niamey FIR:
This closure made African routings quite challenging – a region already plagued with various airspace closures and risk warnings:
- Sudan: Airspace remains closed to all civilian flights following a military coup in April 2023. More info.
- South Sudan: Air navigation services remain suspended above FL245 following the coup in Sudan. More info.
- Libya: Flight ban for US and UK operators (several other countries have warnings in place) due to risks associated with the civil war that has been ongoing since 2014. More info.
The map below shows the issue:
Flights from Europe to West Africa and beyond had to route around Niger, via Mali and Burkina Faso in the western part of the DRRR/Niamey FIR, or via the GOOO/Dakar FIR (British Airways DNAA-EGLL in the map below).
Flights between West Africa and the Middle East also had this extra dogleg around Niger if electing to fly the northerly route across Africa (Qatar DNMM-OTBH) or else chose the southerly route avoiding Sudan and Yemen (Emirates DGAA-OMDB).
And yep, there were still the likes of Egyptair overflying Libyan airspace on some flights!
We will update this article with further info as we get it. If you have anything to share, please let us know.