See also:
» 03.11.2008 - W/Sahara contests inclusion in EU-Morocco deal
» 15.09.2006 - EU donates €10 million to Western Sahara refugees
» 05.06.2006 - Australian companies asked to keep off Western Sahara
» 07.03.2006 - Fight over legality of EU fisheries in Western Sahara
» 24.05.2005 - Sahara dispute again thwarts Maghreb summit
» 19.05.2005 - Sahrawis concerned over EU-Morocco fisheries deal
» 15.03.2005 - "New era" in Canary Islands' ties with El Aaiun
» 10.03.2005 - Morocco steps up aid to its ally, Niger

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Western Sahara
Economy - Development

Direct flights to connect Canary Islands, Western Sahara

afrol News, 11 March - The airliner Binter of the Spanish Canary Islands tomorrow is to launch its new regular flight connection between the islands and El Aaiun, the capital of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. A strait of only 200 kilometres separates the Canary islands from Morocco and Western Sahara, and trade connections are now booming.

The new flight connection was announced today by the Chamber of Commerce of Las Palmas on Gran Canaria, the capital of the autonomous Spanish archipelago, located just off the Western Sahara-Morocco border. The Chamber of Commerce was actively taking part in the launch of these direct flights, scheduled for tomorrow.

A large number of members of the Chamber are to be on the first flight to El Aaiun. The Gran Canaria business delegation is to participate in the inauguration of the Office of Canary Island Businessmen in El Aaiun. In the Western Sahara capital, the delegation from the Canary Islands plans to meet with the Moroccan authorities of the city.

The new Canary Island business office in El Aaiun, according to the Chamber of Commerce, is to facilitate information and services to develop the potential of Spanish investments in the territory. In short, it is to aid businessmen from the Canary Islands through the bureaucracy in El Aaiun.

The Chamber of Commerce of Las Palmas de Gran Canarias in a statement today says that "the opening of the new weekly flight line by Binter will facilitate the expansion of companies from the Canary Islands abroad, and for that reason the Chambers of the Canary Islands congratulate the airliner for this initiative."

The same sources say that this initiative by Binter Canarias comes after an invitation by the Chambers of Commerce, which aims at aiding "the integration of the two regions and furthering economic, social and cultural cohesion between the archipelago and that city." Binter formerly was the state-owned monopoly airliner of the Canary Islands, but is now owned by private capital and the leading transport company on the islands.

The new initiative to increase Canary Island investments in El Aaiun is somewhat commercial as the Saharawi city remains under Moroccan occupation. The Spanish islander businessmen generally refer to "southern Morocco" instead of "Western Sahara" as the territory is internationally named, in order to obtain a footing here.

This apparent acceptance of the Moroccan occupation on several occasions has caused representatives of the exiled Saharawi government to protest. Canary Island business representatives earlier told the Spanish edition of afrol News that the islanders only were reacting to growing investments from other countries in El Aaiun.

It would not be logic for Canary Island businesses to be the only ones abstaining from investments in Western Sahara, the representative said, "given the obvious advantages by the short physical distance and the close historical and cultural links." The archipelago's government however prefers to hold a lower profile. Western Sahara was a Spanish colony until 1975, and trade from El Aaiun mostly went through Las Palmas.

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