The Minister of Transport, Samuel A. Wlue, says the departure of Air France from Liberia has nothing to do with the operations of the Roberts International Airport nor its passenger flow.
Minister Wlue, at a major press conference held in Monrovia, said the departure of the French airliner is mainly based on the Mali crisis, which led to the economic embargo placed on that country by ECOWAS early this year.
He added that to continue providing service to the Liberian people and many valued customers, Air France tried to combine the Monrovia operations with The Gambia.
“So Air France’s decision is strictly along the line with profitability for them and the embargo in Mali is hurting their operations so they are, beginning April 30, to stop operations here in Liberia and many other places,” he said.
The ECOWAS sanctions aganist include the recall of ECOWAS member states ambassadors accredited to Mali; closure of land and air borders; suspension of all commercial and financial transactions except for food products, pharmaceutical products, medical supplies, and equipment, including materials for the control of COVID-19, petroleum products and electricity; freezing of Malian assets in ECOWAS central banks; and the suspension of all financial assistance and transactions.
Recently, it was reported that the French airliner was cutting off Liberia as of March 28 due to poor quality of services at the Roberts International Airport, which include a dark runway, lack of electricity at the airport and bad jet fuel being supplied – all of which put the planes and passengers at risk.
However, Minister Wlue said, Air France has decided to temporarily stop their operation here in Liberia beginning April 30th, 2022.
“If you remembered just earlier this year, Bamako experienced an embargo from ECOWAS — that means Air France will no longer or is no longer going to Mali. That stops their profitability according to them and those routes become no more profitable for them,” he said.
According to him, the Bamako route being an important part of their network, the management combined the said operations with the North African Country of Mauritania.
He further disclosed that the last flight will leave Paris Charles de Gaulle for Monrovia on 29th April and will return to Paris Charles de Gaulle on April 30, 2022.
Following the announcement of its intention to terminate its service to Monrovia, the French airliner has issued an official statement.
At Charles De Gaulle International Airport in Paris, France, on March 9th, 2022, the statement indicated that Mr. Jean-Marc Pouchol, Air France Vice President for Africa, and Mr. Jean-Luc Mevellec, Air France Regional Director for West Africa, invited and met with Hon. Samuel A. Wlue, Minister of Transportation, Republic of Liberia to inform him about Air France’s operations in Liberia. The meeting took place at Charles De Gaulle International Airport in Paris, France.
“Based on the economic performance, the current geopolitical situation and the Air France-KLM’s overall plan to restore its profitability, Air France has decided to suspend its flights to Monrovia, Liberia, as of the end of April 2022,” the official statement from the airliner said.
“Customers already booked on flights after the end of April, will be informed individually. The customers concerned can change their travel plans or cancel the trip and request a refund.
“Air France would like to thank the government of Liberia and the airport authorities for their continued support in the operation of this route,” the statement concluded
In another development, the ministry will on March 14 begin their regular inspection of all motor vehicles plying in the country. “It is our hope that all cars plying streets and byways of Liberia will be fully registered in accordance with the law,” says Minister Wlue.