Transport Minister Samuel A. Wlue discloses here that Air France’s discontinuation of flight to Liberia is entirely a policy position by the Government of France, which is principally in consonance with its geopolitical determination and disposition in the wake of ailing diplomatic ties with Mali.
Minister Wlue clarifies the imminent departure of the French carrier absolutely has nothing to do with poor management of the Roberts International Airport (RIA) or bad services, including power outages and runway faults, which he notes, aren’t unique to the RIA only.
Addressing a news conference over the weekend in Monrovia, the Transport boss recalled that before embarking on its Monrovia route, Air France’s prime route closer to Liberia was Mali, which served as its regional transit hub—essentially to serve the needs of the French troop deployed in Mali.
He continues that in November 2020, Air France launched a daily flight service to RIA in support of its Bamako, Mali Operations which were called off when ECOWAS placed an embargo on the Republic of Mali earlier this year.
Wlue explains that the Bamako, Mali route being a very important part of their network, Air France Management combined the said operations with the North African Country of Mauritania.
He indicates that as a service to the Liberian people and many valued customers, Air France tried to combine its Monrovia operations with the Gambia.
However, he says May 9th, 2022, Mr. Jean-Marc Pouchol, Air France Vice President for Africa and Mr. Jean-Luc Mevellec, Regional Director for West Africa, invited him to the Charles De Gaulle Airport in France and held discussion with him about Air France Operations to Liberia.
The Minister explains that based on economic performance and route profitability, the current geopolitical situation and Air France –KLM’s overall plan to restore its profitability, Air France decided to temporarily suspend flights to Monrovia, Liberia as of April 30th, 2022.
According to him, the airline’s last flight will leave Paris Charles de Gaulle on April 30th adding that customers already booked on flights after April 29, 2022, will be informed individually.
He stresses that customers concerned may change their travel plans or cancel the trip and request a refund.
In another development, Minister Wlue announces that the Ministry of Transport (MoT) will begin today, March 14, 2022, starts a routine motor vehicle inspection scheme for 2022, which includes the enforcement of the third-party insurance policy.
This means that strategic parts of the roads identified as checkpoints will be attended to by Transport inspectors usually assisted by traffic police officers.
The exercise, he says will be implemented across the country, including Monrovia and its suburbs.
“Most of the motorists have the audacity to leave their homes as early as 5:00 A.M. to evade the inspection, but the Ministry has put in place specific measures to deal with such issues this time around,” Wlue reveals. Editing by Jonathan Browne