Air France flight from France to Mexico not allowed to fly over US airspace

While Traffic is a theme here at 80+1, we tend to focus on automobile traffic, and lose sight of air traffic. In the air, as on the ground, airplanes have very complex procedures and processes that they must follow. These include an unprecedented amount of airplane security that has not abated since its inception in late 2001.

Take the recent example of Air France Flight 438 from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport to Mexico City Benito Juárez airport, due to land at 18h00 on Saturday April 18, 2009.

On board was Colombian journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina, who writes for the famed French newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique and is the author of Bacardi: The Hidden War.

About five hours before the plane was due to land, wrote Ospina after the episode: “the captain’s voice announced that U.S. authorities had prohibited the plane from flying over U.S. territory. The explanation: among the passengers aboard was a person who was not welcome in the United States for reasons of national security.”

The captain then told the passengers that the plane was going to make an unscheduled “refueling” stop in Fort-de-France, Martinique.

However, as Ospina writes: “But the central question, spoken in undertones, was the identity of the “terrorist” passenger, because if the “gringos” say it, “it must be because he must be a terrorist.”"

Ospina was questioned by French officials at the behest of American authorities and was ultimately released and allowed to continue on his trip to Nicaragua. This encounter raises troubling questions about how much power the U.S. continues to exert over foreign countries and companies concerning potential terrorist threats.

Ospina and his publisher apparently will be suing for compensation.

[via Boing Boing]

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