Flights between Seychelles and the Middle East are currently taking a longer route to reach their destinations, due to closure of Yemeni airspace. The Yemen Civil Aviation Authority made the decision to close their airspace yesterday as a precaution to commercial aviation, after military activities erupted in the region of Aden in Yemen.
Airlines are, therefore, making a detour to avoid the Sanaa airspace
and are being dispatched out in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean using
Muscat and Bombay airspace. This is affecting both the Emirates and Air
Seychelles/Etihad flight schedules.
In the case of Emirates airline, the flying time has increased by
approximately 45 minutes, from 4 hours, 5 minutes to 4 hours, 45
Air Seychelles/Etihad has slightly over an hour added to the flight times for the Seychelles-Abu Dhabi sector and vice versa.
Other than those traveling to Seychelles, hundreds of flights using
the Yemen airspace to access the Indian Ocean region as well as large
parts of Africa en route from the Gulf area, and services to and from
Europe transiting in the Yemeni airspace, are being affected.
Ms. Esmee Samson, the General Manager for Air Navigation Services at
the SCAA, said: “Yesterday, we also had overflying traffic from Europe
to the Indian Ocean Islands which were routing mostly in the Nairobi
airspace but has as of today resumed their normal routing in the
Seychelles airspace with their detour being further north.”
Seychelles, as a contracted state of International Civil Aviation
Authority (ICAO), has welcomed this cautious approach although this
situation will bring about considerable additional costs and slightly
longer flight times.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Transport, Mr. Joel Morgan, said:
“Safety, security, and passenger rights have to be safeguarded at all
costs always. Passengers traveling to our region can rest assured that
as a government as a contracting state of ICAO we will always err on the
side of caution and support actions from other authorities who are
doing just that.”
It is for the moment unclear for how long this situation will be
on-going, but the SCAA is monitoring the situation very closely as well
as the ICAO Eastern and Southern African Office in Nairobi.