Transfer of management of Sahara airspace to Morocco

Transfer of management of Sahara airspace to Morocco

The recent visit by the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, is beginning to bear fruit. According to the Spanish press, he would have succeeded in lifting the ban on transferring management of Sahara airspace to Morocco. One step leading to another, Morocco would have accepted the reopening of commercial customs in Ceuta and Melilla.

According to the Spanish newspaper Secret Digital CompanyCiting diplomatic sources, Morocco was going to set a crucial condition for the reopening of Ceuta and Melilla customs: transferring the management of Sahara airspace to Morocco, which had previously been controlled by Spain (the former colonial power) since the Canary Islands.

However, it was confirmed that no specific date has been set for the reopening of Ceuta and Melilla customs, which have been closed since 2018. According to El Confidencial Digital: “ On the Spanish side, everything is ready, but Rabat is due for technical reasons“.

For her part, the Moroccan Ambassador to Spain, Karima Benaich, expressed the Kingdom’s commitment to opening these customs soon, stressing that “There will be more meetings on this topic“.

Although Pedro Sanchez admitted that there were still problems to be solved on the Moroccan side, he stressed that there were no political or legal obstacles.

Last June, Rabat received assurances from Moncloa that Spain would put an end to this transfer, in accordance with the agreement concluded within the framework of the road map decided by Rabat and Madrid, during Pedro Sanchez’s visit to Morocco in 2023.

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However, the Spanish government was forced to stop this transfer due to early elections and the premature end of the legislature.

For decades, Sahara airspace has been managed from the Canary Islands. It was under the administration of the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization, with the participation of ENAIRE, a public company affiliated with the Ministry of Transport. It is de facto controlled by Spain due to its status as a former administrative power in the territory.

Within the framework of the new relations between Sanchez and Morocco, Moncloa admitted that he had begun negotiations with Rabat regarding the transfer of management of the Sahara airspace, with the aim of ensuring better security in communications and increasing technical cooperation between the two parties.

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