The nationality of a baby born mid-flight is still up the air

Her mother is French-Guinean but she may have Turkish citizenship.
Turkish Airlines

A passenger on board a Turkish Airlines flight has given birth shortly after taking off from Conakry, Guinea.

Diaby Nafi gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Kadiju, at an altitude of 13,000 metres. The flight was en route to Turkey with a stop in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso.

After the baby girl was born, the plane made its routine stop in Ougadougou and the mother and baby were taken to a nearby hospital.

The birth was assisted by cabin crew and the pilot İrfan Kurşun Geçmez who said to Hurriyet Daily News “Everything happened quickly. We got the news that the delivery was done successfully while we were waiting to hear a second confirmation and learn about the latest news,” he said. “So, we decided to continue the route.”

Turkish Airlines details on their website the conditions which pregnant women need to abide by in order to fly. After 28 weeks, passengers must present a report from their physician “which states that they can travel on board an aircraft”.

According to cabin crew Diaby did not appear pregnant and had not alerted the airline of her pregnancy, reports the Hurriyet Daily News.

The nationality of a baby born in mid-air is a hotly debated issue, with no international standard set.

According to the United Nations, a baby born on a flight is a citizen of the country where the airline is registered. So in this case, baby Kadiju would become a Turkish citizen.

However, the term jus soli, meaning ‘right of the soil’ is used to define the United States nationally laws and grants automatic citizenship to babies born on US soil. Jus soli doesn’t necessarily apply to babies born in the air or at sea, as the US will not recognise a baby born on a US vessel (such as a plane or ship) unless it’s docked at a US port or flying within the country’s airspace.

The US law has in the past lent itself to the idea of ‘birth tourism’, where expectant mothers travel to the US just to give birth on US soil, or in the airspace to give their children citizenship.

Citizenship for the rare case of babies being born mid-flight are usually assessed on a case-by-case basis, and are often influenced by the parents nationality.

As for the rumour that a lifetime of free flights is given to the lucky baby? Sadly this is just hearsay, although some airlines have been known to grant free tickets, first-class upgrades and free flights until the person is 21, so not all bad!

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