President George Manneh Weah is perhaps, still settling down from the euphoria that characterized the official launch of “Liberia Airway”, Wings of Liberia at the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County last week Friday, 30 October.
According to the Executive Mansion, the President did not hold his emotions during the occasion saying, Liberia owning a national carrier has been his long time wish since he came to the Presidency. “It has been my dream, hope and vision that we will very soon see Lone Star Air, the Wings of Liberia, flying our flag in international skies, shining so brightly”, Mr. Weah is quoted in a press release.
While we welcome progressive investments that would boost our national economy, we caution the government that operating an airline service is not a child’s play, as it requires serious investment and huge responsibility both nationally and internationally.
If news or experiences of countries with strong economies in Africa such as Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya or Ethiopia and elsewhere are anything to go by, the Government of Liberia should be very circumspect in how it proceeds on this matter.
These countries with national carriers are seriously struggling to maintain services to the public principally due to bad management and corruption that have left employees without pay for months, if not years, grounding aircrafts.
Such bad business environment erodes public confidence in a national carrier and portrays a very negative image of the country involves thus, driving away investors rather than the other way around.
It is not just enough to perform a launch, but serious thought is required in running a national carrier that should bring pride to every Liberian and our beloved country.
We may recall that the last time Liberia had an effective national carrier (Air Liberia) was in the 70s under the administration of slain President William R. Tolbert. Tolbert’s successor Samuel Kanyon Doe came and picked up what could be described then as remains of Air Liberia, but did do anything much with it, as the aircraft crashed in Sudan, while returning from repair in Egypt, killing one of the crew onboard.
President Weah disclosed that the current venture is efforts of authorities at the Ministry of Transport and investors from Ghana, who are partnering with Liberian entrepreneurs to resurrect the national carrier, which has been out of service for nearly half of a century.
Considering the global economic meltdown that has even been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we think deep thought should go into this so that Liberia would do it differently this time around; it is not about seeing neighboring countries having national carriers and we think we are ready to enter the civil aviation market to operate a carrier because this business thrives on confidence, reliability and efficiency.