Morocco will reopen its airspace in February | Spain

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Sale (Morocco), 11/27/2021.- Passengers wait for their flights at the Rabat-Sale airport, in Sale, Morocco, on November 29, 2021. Morocco has decided to suspend regular flights to and from Morocco due to the outbreak of the Covid Pandemic of 19, reported on November 28, 2021 the Ministerial Committee for Coordination and Control of the International Travel Mechanism during the Pandemic.  (Morocco) EFE/EPA/JALAL MORCHIDI
Sale (Morocco), 11/27/2021.- Passengers wait for their flights at the Rabat-Sale airport, in Sale, Morocco, on November 29, 2021. Morocco has decided to suspend regular flights to and from Morocco due to the outbreak of the Covid Pandemic of 19, reported on November 28, 2021 the Ministerial Committee for Coordination and Control of the International Travel Mechanism during the Pandemic. (Morocco) EFE/EPA/JALAL MORCHIDI
JALAL MORCHIDI (EFE)

The Moroccan government will open its airspace from Monday, February 7, after it was closed on November 29 due to the omicron variant. The news was released by the official MAP agency on Thursday night. The day before, thousands of people linked to the tourism sector had demonstrated in several cities in the country to demand the opening of borders.

Days after the omicron variant was detected in South Africa, only three countries in the world decided to close their airspace: Israel, Japan and Morocco. But while the first two opened after a few days, Morocco has chosen to extend the closure for more than 70 days. Such a drastic measure has not prevented the omicron variant from being responsible for 95% of covid infections in the country.

The authorities have not yet offered an exact date for the reopening. Neither do the sanitary measures that will be required of passengers. A technical commission will be in charge of specifying the details, according to the statement.

Thousands of nationals were blocked abroad during all this time. The Moroccan state only allowed repatriation flights between December 15 and 23 and only with flights from Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Portugal. Moroccans arriving on those planes were required to quarantine in hotels assigned by the state.

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Regular flights to Morocco have been banned since January 29. Ryanair canceled this week those that it had already contracted in February and alleged as a cause “the travel restrictions imposed by Morocco”. The restrictions, however, are not an impediment for those who are willing to pay around 1,500 euros on flights with private jets, which are arriving in Morocco from cities like Malaga, as this newspaper has been able to verify. These passengers, whether Moroccan or resident foreigners, were not required to go through any quarantine.

Exceptionally, Rabat has allowed access to its territory in January for two special chartered ferries from the French port of Marseille to Tanger Med. And a third is scheduled to leave on February 2. The three boats are intended for European passengers or permanent residents in Morocco who have a vehicle registered in Europe. Meanwhile, no ship has sailed from Spain, despite the fact that the distance between the ports of Algeciras and Tanger Med is an hour and a half, while from Marseille to the Moroccan coast it takes 42 hours to arrive.

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The French embassy announced on January 17 in your twitter account the departure for Wednesday January 19 of the first special ferry. The second departed on Monday, January 24. And the one for Wednesday, February 2 was announced this Thursday in the official account of the embassy. All trips are operated by the company La Méridionale.

Although Morocco has not allowed the arrival of ships from Spain, the Spanish authorities have decided to act otherwise. And they are providing all kinds of facilities to welcome the 12,600 seasonal workers who work in the Huelva strawberry campaign. Thus, from January 10 – and until the end of March – 850 seasonal workers arrive at the port of Algeciras every Wednesday leaving from Tanger Med. The Moroccan authorities, however, do not allow those same ferries to return to Morocco with passengers from Spain. .

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The lack of ships covering the route from Spain to Morocco is part of a context not only of a pandemic but also of a diplomatic crisis. Relations between the two countries have been notably altered since the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, decreed on December 10 the sovereignty of Morocco over Western Sahara, in exchange for the full establishment of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel.

King Mohamed VI demanded from his partners, in a speech delivered on November 6, more “ambitious and clear” positions on Western Sahara. And the government spokesman, Mustafa Baytas, demanded on January 20 from the Spanish government “a lot of clarity”.

Since last December 10, when Trump recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, no other country has followed in his footsteps.



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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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