Thousands of Dutch caught off guard by Morocco's sudden flight ban
Morocco's sudden announcement on Wednesday that it was banning flights to and from the Netherlands starting Thursday caught thousands of Netherlands residents holidaying in the country off guard. Flight traffic between the two countries stopped at midnight.
The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs' current advice for people stuck in Morocco is to find "alternatives to travel via other countries near the Netherlands," a spokesperson said to AD. The flight ban also applies to Germany and the United Kingdom. The Ministry could not say how many Netherlands residents are stuck in Morocco, but it is a very popular holiday destination.
Transavia alone transported 3,500 people to the country in the past week. "We are looking at whether we can get permission to fly longer to pick up stranded travelers in Morocco," a spokesperson for Transavia said to the newspaper.
Travel agency TUI has 78 holidaymakers in Morocco. The agency is investigating how to best support travelers in the country in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A spokesperson for the Moroccan Dutch Association told AD that he is very displeased with this sudden ban. "There is concern, and there are many questions among people. The Moroccan government took this measure without notice, again making it completely unclear for people how they can get from Morocco to the Netherlands. It is always a surprise with the Moroccan government. Again there has been no communication."
Nora (27) from Friesland was visiting family in Morocco when the ban was announced on Wednesday. "It is chaotic at the moment for the Dutch Moroccans who are here. The government does not take us into account, and we do not think this is right. They should have given us time to leave the country," she said to the newspaper. She plans to try to book a flight to Belgium next week.
Saida Hammout-Bejja from Ede rushed to the airport of Nador, a city in the northeast of Morocco, the moment she heard about the ban, she said to the newspaper. "Ryanair indicated that Friday's flight will continue, but here they say no. I stand here with no sense of what the hell I should be doing. I am shocked that you can make such a decision on the fly. They are afraid of the Delta variant... Yes, so are we, but we want to go back home, so you have nothing to fear from us."
The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in talks with the Moroccan authorities to lift the flight ban as soon as possible. How long it will last is unclear, the spokesperson said to AD.