Algeria, which has been hit by weeks of anti-government protests, on Sunday banned all private aircraft from taking off or landing until the end of the month.
In a NOTAM, or notice to airmen, aviation authorities said the ban prohibiting “all private Algerian aircraft registered in Algeria or abroad from taking off or landing” would remain in effect until April 30.
There was no immediate reason given for the measure, which was announced after authorities reported the arrest overnight of business tycoon Ali Haddad as he tried to cross the border into neighbouring Tunisia.
Algerian media said the decision to ban flights of private aircraft was aimed at stopping certain prominent individuals from fleeing abroad.
Haddad was widely seen as a political tool of ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika whose decision in February to seek a fifth term in office despite his failing health sparked nationwide protests in the North African country.
Bouteflika, whose mandate officially ends on April 28, said earlier this month he would pull out of the race but postponed elections which were due in April.
Officials have not commented on Haddad’s arrest, which was reported by a security source on condition of anonymity and local media.