BUENOS AIRES (ARGENTINA) – The Argentinian foreign ministry said on Thursday that German airline Lufthansa has sought its permission to fly over the country en route to the Falklands, adding that it implies recognition of the islands “as part of Argentine territory”.
Lufthansa said the request was made for two flights supporting a polar expedition as the normal route via Cape Town has been suspended because of the pandemic.
Ownership over the Falklands has been disputed by both Argentina and the UK. Buenos Aires lays claims of sovereignty over the British-controlled islands it calls the Malvinas. The dispute even triggered a brief war in 1982.
The government said the airline sought permission for two flights carrying scientists and logistical staff from Hamburg to Mount Pleasant in the Falklands from where they travel to Antarctica on board the vessel “Polarstern” to conduct climate change research.
The Argentinian government also said Germany had sought permission for the research ship Polarstern to dock in Port Stanley, the capital of the islands.
The two flights spanning 15 hours are scheduled for Feb. 1 and March 30.
In a statement, the Argentine foreign ministry said Lufthansa had asked its civil aviation authority and regional authorities permission to fly over the country and use the Argentine town of Ushuaia in Patagonia as an alternative airport in case the aircraft are unable to land in the Falklands.
According to the foreign ministry, the German Embassy also sought authorisation from the Argentine Naval Prefecture for the research ship to enter “Puerto Argentino,” which is the Argentine name for Port Stanley.
“The relevance of Lufthansa’s request presented to the Argentine authorities is highlighted as it implies the recognition of the Malvinas Islands as part of Argentine territory,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Last year, Argentina stepped up its claims over the islands by appointing a minister for Malvinas, saying it will redraw maps to put forward its claim over the Falklands and lobby in the UN.