Negotiations have commenced between Morocco and Spain to determine the fate of the Western Sahara airspace, which has been under Spanish control according to Morocco world news. The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has described the airspace as encompassing Morocco’s southern provinces and part of the Atlantic ocean, including the Canary Islands, as well as several airports in Morocco’s southern regions, such as Dakhla, Laayoune, and Es-Smara.
In April 2022, Spain’s Head of Government, Pedro Sanchez, and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI discussed the airspace during a meeting in Rabat. According to the Spanish government, negotiations have now started to transfer control of the airspace to Morocco.
Although the airspace has been under Spanish control, the European country’s airport authority, ENAIRE, has coordinated with its Moroccan counterparts, ONDA, to oversee flight movements. The agreement saw the ONDA’s regional control center in Casablanca authorize flights entering and leaving the airports of Laayoune, Dakhla, and Es-Smara, before being handed over to the control centers in the Canary Islands.
This airspace agreement is one of many initiatives being taken by the two countries to strengthen their relationship after a year of diplomatic tensions between 2021 and 2022. The tensions were sparked by Spain’s hosting of Polisario leader Brahim Ghali. The countries finally reconciled in early 2022, with Spain officially supporting Morocco’s Autonomy Plan for the Western Sahara region. Since then, the two countries have improved cooperation, with recent high-level talks resulting in the signing of several new cooperation programs, including those related to trade and migration