Just hours after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lifted a ban on U.S. flights to and from Tel Aviv, Air Algerie airlines Flight AH5017 was reported missing on Thursday morning en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers.
Air Algerie Airlines Flight AH5017 with 110 passengers and six crew on board, including French and Spanish nationals went missing approximately 10 hours ago. The Guardian reports an Air Algérie source as saying contact was lost while the airliner was still in Malian airspace and approaching the border with Algeria.
Algeria is located in the Tamazɣa or Maghreb region of North Africa on the Mediterranean coast. Despite military efforts in the region, northern Mali has remained unstable after it was seized by jihadist groups for several months in 2012.
"The plane disappeared at Gao (in Mali), 500 kilometres (300 miles) from the Algerian border. Several nationalities are among the victims," Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal was cited as saying by Algerian radio."
In a statement, Air Algerie airlines said it has initiated an "emergency plan" in the search for flight AH5017.
The FAA's flight ban was criticized by the Israeli government. 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.
In a Press Release by the Federal Aviation Administration Wednesday night, 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."
Check back for details as this breaking story unfold.