France’s foreign minister said on Thursday that missing Air Algerie Airlines Flight AH5017 that vanished en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers late Wednesday night “probably crashed.”
Air Algerie Airlines Flight AH5017, a Swiftair MD-83 aircraft carrying 116 passenger and crew was last detected approximately 50 minutes after takeoff from Ougadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, at 9:55 p.m. ET Wednesday over northern Mali.
France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius said no wreckage had been found, but said the plane “probably crashed.”
Authorities have not said what might have caused the plane to crash. The initial reports said the area is very volatile for weather related hazards. The FAA regularly issues airspace restrictions and prohibitions for U.S. aircraft traveling through potentially hostile airspace, including Mali.
Despite military efforts in the region, northern Mali has remained unstable after it was seized by jihadist groups for several months in 2012.
The FAA issued a warning on Mali, where the plane is believed to have crashed states:
“There is risk to the safety of U.S. civil flights operating into, out of, within or over Mali from small arms, rocket-propelled grenade, rockets and mortars, and anti-aircraft fire, to include shoulder-fired, man-portable air defense systems”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned all U.S. flights to Tel Aviv on Monday, a move that was criticized by the Israeli government and some Republican lawmakers. The flight ban was lifted on Wednesday, just hours before Air Algerie Airlines AH5017 was reported missing.
In a Press Release by the Federal Aviation Administration late Wednesday evening, FAA officials said:
“Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation,” the FAA said. “The agency will continue to closely monitor the very fluid situation around Ben Gurion Airport and will take additional actions as necessary.”
Aviation experts say each country decides whether to close airspace over its own territory. And government agencies that regulate their own airlines, such as the FAA, can declare areas off-limits, too. But there is no international body that closes air routes for all the world’s airlines.