When Pakistan closed its airspace, planes that had routes flying over Pakistan had to deviate around that country.

What would happen to planes en route to or from Lesotho, if South Africa closed its airspace?

Are the planes simply unable to leave or enter the country, or there is a law / regulation about this situation?


2 Answers 2


it would be no different than in case say China and Russia both closing their airspace for aircraft flying into and out of Mongolia. There'd be no way for aircraft to enter or leave that country.

Nothing special about being an enclave there.

  • $\begingroup$ I hardly see how it answers the question. The question is "what happens [in this case]?" $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Jun 26, 2019 at 12:25
  • $\begingroup$ This answer simply points out that the situation isn't unique. If any landlocked country or state was denied access to the surrounding territory it would be locked in. The portion of the question about whether there is a law or regulation to prevent it in this specific case is legit, otherwise "what would happen" is pretty open ended. $\endgroup$ Jun 26, 2019 at 15:46

South Africa has an agreement with Lesotho and Swaziland for single point of management of the upper airspace of the three countries. Lesotho and Swaziland retain control over lower airspace. For example, Swaziland has a rule that nothing may fly over 50 ft over the ground without permission. A detective was once arrested and fined for flying a drone and taking pictures above that altitude. Swaziland also has a law that bans witches broomsticks from flying above 150 meters above the ground. No, it's not a joke.

Because of that agreement, it would be highly unlikely that South Africa would close airspace in such a way as to deny entry and exit to aircraft flying to and from Lesotho and Swaziland. I believe that the agreement might even require all three governments to agree before closing of the airspace, and in case of lack of agreement there would have to be corridors in place for aircraft to navigate to/from Lesotho and Swaziland.

That said, enforcement of the agreements may be another story. Paper and reality often diverge. Given the overwhelming disparity in economic, military and regulatory resources, I am not sure Lesotho and Swaziland would be able to enforce continued access if South Africa were to close its airspace for whatever reason.

  • $\begingroup$ Good to know, from that article, that Swazi witches don't use brooms for transport, only to fling potions. $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Jun 27, 2019 at 12:45

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