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Tiny island set to get major airport to link it to home country


The tiny island of Mayotte is set to get a brand new airport in order to link it to France.

The island, which sits off the north west coast of Madagascar and the eastern coast of the African country of Malawi is due to get a brand new transport hub.

Key political figures say that the reason for this change is because of geological risks to the current facility that necessitate the change.

Transport Minister Patrice Vergriete told franceinfo that the current facility was “exposed to major geological risks linked to the presence of an underwater volcano”. Mr Vergriete added that a new proposal will be presented as early as September.

Mr Vergriete said that air service between France and Mayotte was “a major issue” and one which guaranteed the “territorial continuity of the archipelago”.

The announcement of the September deadline for the latest series of plans comes as part of a long-running saga involving the current Dzaoudzi-Pamandzi airport. Reports suggest that there have been calls for an extension to the runway for over 10 years after a public debate on the matter occurred in 2011.

Eight years later in 2019, President Emmanuel Macron promised the new runway that would negate the need for flights between Mayotte and France to stop off in Nairobi en route.

These plans have now been abandoned by the discovery of an underwater volcano which means the extended runway can not be constructed as planned. Instead, a new airport will be built on Grande-Terre at Bouyouni.

Although the decision not to extend the runway at the original location is a blow to the French government, Mr Vergriete stressed it was “neither a retreat nor a renunciation”. Mr Vergriete instead said it was a “reorientation of the project”.

Although Mayotte has been French since 1841, the island has been embroiled in a row over immigration after Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the automatic right to French citizenship for those born on the island could be withdrawn.

The end of what is known as “birthplace citizenship” or “droit du sol” will apply not to France as a whole, but just to Mayotte reported the BBC. The decision has divided politicians in France, some of whom believe it is the right thing to do, whilst others say it is the wrong thing to do.

The move has received some support from Mayotte’s politicians who are calling for the end of the droit du sol (right of the soil) a problem locals say has been exacerbated by people arriving on the island in small boats from nearby Comoros.

Speaking in support of the end of the droit du sol, Mayotte MP Estelle Youssouffa said if the droit du sol is not ended they “will be perpetually the prisoners of our geography” and “end up welcoming all the misery of the Comoros and of Africa”.

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