Airspace management negotiations continue

Airspace management negotiations continue

Madrid came out of its silence regarding the alleged suspension of negotiations with Rabat on the management of the airspace of the Moroccan Sahara. Indeed, the Spanish government through the voice of its Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares confirmed that the negotiations on the “management of the air space of the Moroccan Sahara”, were continuing with Morocco.

The head of the Spanish diplomacy did not give more details on the transfer of the air management, which arouses fear in the ranks of the separatists of the polisario and their sponsors, but he indicated, on the other hand, that there are “informal and continuous contacts” between Rabat and Madrid, which some qualify as unofficial.

The statements of the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs directly deny what had been published by the Spanish media, namely the suspension of the Spanish government, due to the legislative elections, of the negotiations to transfer the management of the airspace from the Moroccan desert to Rabat.

In effect, THE Moroccan authorities and Spanish had started negotiations for a transfer to Rabat of the management of the airspace in Atlantic Sahara. A long-awaited decision, which moreover appeared in the Joint Declaration of the two countries on April 7, 2022. Last March, the Spanish government in response to a parliamentary question from Senator Fernando Clavijo, representative of the Canary Island coalition, acknowledged having started negotiations with Morocco on the management of airspace in the Moroccan Sahara.

The President of the Canary Islands, Angel Victor Torres, for his part, recalled that these negotiations are in accordance with point 7 of the joint declaration of last April between Spain and Morocco and confirmed “the existence of regular negotiations by the Spanish Executive with the Morocco in order to entrust it with the management of the airspace of the Atlantic Sahara region”. Angel Victor Torres did not fail to insist on the need to maintain a fluid relationship with Morocco based on “transparency”, without taking “unilateral decisions”, “without distorting things and without triggering an alarm between the Spanish and Moroccan governments”.

The Madrid government then indicated that the talks had already begun and that contacts with Moroccan officials were limited to the management of airspace, noting that “this coordination aims to achieve greater security in communications and technical cooperation, which both countries aspire to. The purpose of the negotiations is the transfer to Morocco of attributions for the time being in the hands of Spain and this, from the Canary Islandsas expected the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) United Nations.

And if the negotiations between Rabat and Madrid are successful, the management of airspace in the Moroccan Sahara currently administered by Spain since the Canary Islandswill be transferred to Morocco, after it has been managed from the Canary Islands Air Control Center. As a reminder, in 1976 when the Moroccan Sahara was recovered, the ICAO had left the air control of the Atlantic Sahara zone to the Spanish State.

In aviation jargon, Fir is a flight information region where flight information service and alerting service (ALRS) is provided. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) delegates the operational control of a given FIR to a country, in the case of the Canary Islands and the Moroccan Atlantic Sahara the Authority had authorized Spain to manage it.

The Spanish airport authority had signed an agreement with ONDA for the coordination of air movements in this Saharan zone. Flight authorizations from Laayoune airports, Dakhla and Es-Smara are granted by the Casablanca Regional Control Center (CCRC). An additional request is then sent to the control center of the Canary Islands. The agreement does not apply to military flights, since the Chicago Convention on international civil aviation does not apply to aircraft used in military, customs or police services.


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