The Spanish government could be working to rebuild and recover its relationship with neighbouring Algeria. This is one of the first conclusions that can be drawn after learning that a Dassault Falcon D900 aircraft of the Spanish Air Force flew to the Algerian capital, Algiers, at 11 a.m. on Friday morning and returned to Madrid after 7 p.m. The information comes from various applications and websites.
The information comes from several applications and websites dedicated to tracking flights by satellite signal. Several users of social networks were surprised to see this flight, which was not scheduled in the agenda of any member of the Spanish government.
The Falcon D900 aircraft, made by the French company Dassault, are operated by the 45th Group of the Spanish Air Force, which is responsible for transporting by air the Head of State, the President of the Government and ministers on trips within Spain or abroad. The 45th Group has 5 aircraft of this type. The Falcon D900 has a capacity for around 19 passengers plus crew.
According to information from air traffic monitoring websites, the aircraft took off at 11 a.m. from the Torrejón de Ardoz military air base, and landed at around 12.20 p.m. in Algeria. It spent 6 hours on Algerian soil before returning to Madrid. The use of a Falcon implies that a member or advisor of the Spanish government travelled to Algeria, unless it was a test flight, practice flight or some other type of trip.
The Spanish government has not clarified the reason for this trip, which was not scheduled in the programme of any member of the government. Sources from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs consulted by ATALAYAR affirm that this is not a trip made by their ministry.
The Ministry of Ecological Transition, headed by Teresa Ribera, who played an important role in the last relations with Algeria prior to the breakdown of the Treaty of Good Neighbourliness, has also denied to ATALAYAR that any senior official from this ministry was travelling on the Falcon.
With the official response from the two ministries that could potentially have travelled, the reasons for this trip remain up in the air.
But the timing is key as Pedro Sánchez's government attempts to restore relations with Algeria. After conveying messages of calm and reassurance to each other, Morocco and Algeria could make progress in de-escalating the tension that has lasted for a year now, with the cessation of diplomatic relations and the non-renewal of the Maghreb-Europe gas transport route through Morocco from Algeria.
These signals, together with the energy urgency in Europe, could be enough factors for the Spanish government to take a step on its part to alleviate the situation. Pedro Sánchez's government stated that it would work to meet German demand for gas through the Midcat pipeline project that runs through Portugal, Spain and France. Spain has a very important gas infrastructure that is underutilised. Regasification plants such as the one in Gijón have seen hardly any activity since they were inaugurated. It is estimated that through Midcat, up to 20% of Germany's gas consumption could be met at a crucial time.
Minister Teresa Ribera told a press conference that the pipeline could be ready in a matter of eight to nine months, at a cost of around 450 million euros. However, the French government still needs some involvement in order to see the project prosper, especially in the section that passes through its territory.