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Rabat – Following Morocco’s latest wave of flight suspensions last week, Spanish authorities managed to successfully repatriate nearly 1,200 Spaniards from the North African country, on Sunday, April 4.
On Sunday, at approximately 16:30 Moroccan time, a ferry operated by Balearia departed the port of Tangier Med, Morocco, for Algeciras, Spain, carrying 800 passengers on board, reports the Spanish Cadena SER.
On the same afternoon, additional 348 passengers flew from Casablanca to the Spanish capital Madrid, on a special flight chartered by the Iberia airline. Iberia originally chartered a 200-seater plane, but in order to speed up repatriation, the airline opted for the Airbus A350, its largest aircraft with a capacity of 348 passengers.
It was the first time the airline has flown its latest-generation aircraft to Morocco.
Over 3,000 Spaniards became stranded in Morocco, when the Moroccan authorities announced the suspension of flights with Spain starting March 31.
Following the suspension, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Arancha Gonzalez Laya announced the repatriation flights, saying that Spain “always” repatriates its citizens in such cases.
“Currently, there is so much uncertainty at the borders and with regard to the conditions of access to other countries that the best is still to refrain from traveling. It is the most prudent,” she said.
Morocco has now suspended flights with a total of 39 countries, including Spain.
The suspension has seen connections severed with Mali, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Conakry, Libya, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Cameroon, Croatia, Mozambique, Poland, Norway, Finland, Greece, Lebanon, Kuwait, Algeria, and Egypt.
Also concerned are Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Australia, Ireland, Brazil, New Zealand, the UK, South Africa, and Denmark.
Morocco’s increased health and safety precautions come, at least in part, due to the rapid spread of new COVID-19 variants across Africa and beyond. Following the appearance of the British variant in the southern provinces, the authorities imposed a three-day lockdown in Dakhla.