Some 500 passengers were stranded on Friday after Air Senegal stopped operating and cancelled all of its flights in an ongoing dispute between Dakar and Air Senegal majority stakeholder Royal

Air Maroc.

In the Senegalese capital of Dakar, 274 people due to fly out to Paris and several west African locations were stranded at the airport.

In Paris and the other locations some 224 people due to fly to Dakar were also stranded. In total 498 people are stuck due to the problems with Air Senegal, according to figures given by an Air

Senegal official, who did not want to be named.

"All these passengers are stranded at the airports where they were. We don't have the means to transport them. Our accounts have been frozen and other carriers are demanding to be paid in cash to fly them," the source in the Air Senegal commercial branch told AFP.

Royal Air Maroc announced Friday that Air Senegal had stopped operating and cancelled all of its flights.

"For several weeks Royal Air Maroc has warned its Senegalese co-shareholders that there was a risk Air Senegal would stop its activities. Today Air Senegal has stopped operating and cancelled

all its flights," the RAM said in a statement.

Air Senegal International (ASI), was created in 2000 with RAM holding a 51 percent stake in the company and the Senegalese state 49 percent. For almost two years, RAM and Dakar have been at odds

with each other.

Late in 2007, the Senegalese state announced it was taking control of ASI, accusing RAM of bad management. The Moroccans have been pressing Dakar to take effective control of ASI, saying they will withdraw otherwise.

The row intensified earlier this month when a Senegalese court ruling banned RAM from withdrawing from the Senegalese carrier. RAM

is appealing the decision.

The Senegalese transport ministry said on Friday that minister Habib Sy had invited his Moroccan counterpart to attend a special meeting on April 29 to resolve the crisis engulfing RAM and ASI.

They had not yet received a reply to the invitation. - Sapa-AFP