After Nine Years, Air France Resumes Flights to Liberia with Latest Generation of Planes
MONROVIA – It was a night full of optimism and promising prospect as world renowned airline, Air France, landed its Airbus A350, the latest generation and innovative aircraft, at the refurbished Robert International Airport last Thursday.
The flight from Paris to Monrovia marked the resumption of Air France’s flight to Liberia after it shut down flights to Liberia during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2011.
“As from today, we will operate a daily light by Airbus A350, which represents the promise of an exceptional travelling experience,” said Mr. Henri Hourcade, Air France’s Vice President for Africa, at an event held at the Farmington Hotel in Margibi County to commemorate the aviation company’s resumption of flight to Liberia.
Mr. Hourcade said the new flight is a strong symbol of the strengthened partnership between France and Liberia, and will undoubtedly aim at reinforcing the business and friendship relations between the two countries as well as promoting culture in both sides.
In addition, he said, it will reinforce the business between Liberia and the rest of the world, adding that the airline’s hub in Paris Charles de Gaulle offers very good connections to the United States, United Kingdom, Lebanon, India and China, among others.
“We’re coming with daily flights which have thought to have the best connections to the U.S. via Paris and I think we have today the best product for that – we have the best price, we have the best connection, the shortest connection to the U.S. East Coat and the West Coast and we are coming with our latest plane, the latest generation,” he said.
He added, “By connecting Monrovia to Paris and the rest of the world, Air France aims to support Liberia’s economic dynamism. Needless to say, that business opportunities with Liberia are great and that Air France will be there to back them.”
According to him, Air France never stopped the decision to fly to Liberia but has always been finding the best means possible. Therefore, it would travel to Liberia via Bamako, Mali which has a very good traffic for Paris while Liberia has traffic for the United States.
According to him, the airline will facilitate travels and enable international companies to expand their presence, their activities and exchange with their Liberian partners.
He furthered that the return of Air France will boost the tourism opportunities offered by the exceptional diversity of Liberia’s heritage as well as by the beauty of its natural sites.
In a word, the new Monrovia-Paris route offers very promising prospects, he noted.
Liberia and France have enjoyed friendly ties over the years and it his being further strengthened under the current administrations of President George Weah and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron.
Upon his ascendancy, President Weah’s first state visit to any western nation was France, and during his stay, both Liberia and France signed several bilateral agreements affecting trade, education and youth empowerment.
Also speaking, Bishop John Allen Klayee, the Managing Director of the Robert International Airport (RIA) said the return of Air France is an opportunity worth celebrating by the aviation sector in Liberia, as it is in line with the sector’s post COVID-19 plan. He said the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the sector and full recovery is conditioned on an increase in traffic.
He pledged the airport authorities’ commitment in providing quality services to enable the airlines meet their turnaround and promised that the management will do all within its reach to ensure that Air France maximize its potential.
“To meet this demand, we have continued to improve our technical and staffing capacity as well as our safety programs and services so that Air France and all other airlines will have a safe and secured flight services here at our ROB station,” he said.
The Director General of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), speaking at the event, said the return of Air France represents Liberia’s ability not only to compete, but to thrive in the world’s most important and challenging economic sector. He said it also represents Air France’s remarkable success in connecting Africa to the rest of the world, and in connecting Africans with each other.
“Our aviation industry is showing to the world what’s possible in Liberia, that world-class businesses can progress here, and that Liberia provides fertile ground for businesses to succeed,” he averred.
The airline close down its flight five years ago, due to deplorable runway condition. However, since then, major construction work has been done at the RIA, with the construction of the modern terminal and reconditioning the runway.