LIBERIA – French Flag carrier, Air France has announced plans to resume flights to Liberia, five years after it took a decision to a decision to end its biweekly flights.
Transport Minister Sam Wlue revealed the French carrier’s intention noting that after months of negotiations the airline had notified the Liberian government of its intention to resume its Liberia route and that the Roberts International Airport will be among its new destinations beginning 2020.
In 2014, the airline terminated its Liberia route, attributing the move to little profit margins and deteriorating conditions of the runway at the Roberts International Airport which put its aircraft at a security risk.
One of the airline’s aircraft, an AF752 sustained serious damages to the plane’s bottom right, main landing gear, hydraulic holes, brakes, and right main landing gear assembly on touch down at the airports dilapidated and rugged runway.
The dangerous landing on a rugged runway lead ended up costing the airline almost a half a million dollars in repair costs and perhaps the incident sparked the writing on the wall for the airline amid reports that Air France Airlines was contemplating ending its route to Liberia.
In addition to Air France, Major international carriers, like British Airways, which previously operated direct flights between Monrovia and Europe and Delta Airlines which operated a flight to and from New York that connecting through Accra all cut off Liberia.
The worsening conditions at the airport caught the attention of the Ellen Sirleaf administration which committed to upgrading the status of the airport to meet international standards and towards the end of her administration, the airport received major upgrades resulting in the construction of a new terminal.
Currently, SN Brussels, Royal Air Maroc and several intra-African carriers also use the airport and the return of Air France will boost the airports status which has for a long time been on a downward trend.