Lufthansa special flight becomes a political issue | Polarjournal
As the hygiene requirements around the flight are extremely high, Captain Rolf Uzat and his 17-man crew have already gone into a 14-day quarantine two weeks at the same time as the passengers. “Despite the restrictions on crew, 600 flight attendants alone applied for this flight,” says Rolf Uzat. (Image: Lufthansa)

The Argentine Foreign Ministry exploits the Lufthansa special flight to the Falkland Islands and a request from the airline for its public and political agenda. This concerns the request for overflight rights and the possible use of Ushuaia airport as an alternate airport if it is not possible to land in the Falklands due to meteorological reasons. Argentine authorities interpret the request from Germany at the same time as a recognition of Argentine sovereignty over the islands.

Daniel Fernando Filmus has been Secretary for the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) since 2019, a position he previously held from 2014 to 2015. In his interpretation of Lufthansa’s request, however, he seems to have lost his grip on the ground. (Photo: Elagora)

“It is an important sign that both the German embassy in the case of the polar research ship “Polarstern” and Lufthansa for the flight have asked the Argentine government and the province of Tierra del Fuego for permission to head for the Malvinas Islands,” commented Daniel Filmus, responsible for the Malvinas issue at the Argentine Foreign Ministry. The requests were “a symbolic but diplomatically important step toward strengthening Argentina’s sovereignty claims over the Malvinas Islands,” the Clarin newspaper wrote.

Germany disputes that the request for permission to fly to the islands is a recognition of Argentine sovereignty over the islands. The German Foreign Ministry strongly rejected the interpretation made in Buenos Aires. Moreover, it was expressly emphasised that Lufthansa was a private company and not a state-owned enterprise and that the German Government was not responsible for it.

Falklands War: 1982 – For most Argentines, the war is over. But even after 40 years, the present government in Buenos Aires seems not to have digested the devastating defeat and is stylizing the Falklands issue again. (Photo: Wikipedia)

The political situation and its relations between the British Overseas Territory of Falkland and Argentina has always been a troubled relationship. The defeat in the Falklands War of 1982 left a deep wound in Argentina’s side that has not yet healed. The balance: 649 Argentine and 258 British dead.

Throughout the country it is remembered that the barren archipelago, incl. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are supposedly Argentine and were being illegally occupied by the British. This was also underlined by the Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires this week. Even today there are no direct flights from Argentina to the Falkland Islands.

For some time now, the current government under President Alberto Fernandez and, above all, Vice-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has sharpened the tone towards the Falkland Islands and launched numerous attempts to bring the Falklands issue back onto the international stage. Quite in contrast to the previous government under Mauricio Macri, who had sent out many signs of rapprochement.

Aeropuerto Internacional de Ushuaia Malvinas Argentinas, the name underscores Argentina’s claim to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. The airport was built in 1995 on a raised island and is one of the southernmost international airports in the world. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Lufthansa had submitted an application to the national civil aviation authority ‘Administración Nacional de Aviación Civil’ (Anac) for overflight and landing for charter flights to the Falkland Islands. The Argentinean Ushuaia was planned as an alternative airport. Such airports are routinely designated in advance should weather or other circumstances not permit landing at the actual destination. Another alternate airport would be Punta Arenas, which also requires overflight permission from Argentina. According to the Argentine newspaper Clarin, it should be two special flights. The first on February 1 and the second flight on March 30, 2021.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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