Liberia: New Airport Agreements to Expand RIA, Make it an Aircraft Maintenance Hub
Margibi County – The Liberia Airport Authority has advanced several partnership discussions that will further help modernize the country’s premier airport, Roberts International Airport, and upgrade the aviation sector, according to Bishop Allan Klayee, Manager Director of the LAA.
Report by Alpha Daffae Senkpeni, [email protected]
Amongst the several arrangements, the LAA boss, on behalf of Liberian Government, has signed a deal with a major airport in the United States of America and at the same time advanced talks for a new deal with Delta Airlines.
“We visited the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, Georgia [USA] where we signed a partnership agreement and they are interested in coming to Liberia to partner with us to do the aircraft maintenance center that will be responsible to sell the parts of aircraft,” he said.
The new deal will put an end to the RIA from relying on the South Africa aviation sector for its aircraft maintenance. It will also contribute to job creation and boost the aviation sector as aircrafts from several other countries in the region will turn to Liberia for aircraft spare parts and repairs.
Liberia already has the longest runway in West Africa, which is about 11,000 feet, that has been rehabilitated making it suitable for more international airlines to resume flights to the country.
And the LAA has been engaging international aviation authorities and airlines as a means of further exposing its new-look airport, which has a new terminal building and a runway.
“We visited the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, Georgia [USA] where we signed a partnership agreement and they are interested in coming to Liberia to partner with us to do the aircraft maintenance center that will be responsible to sell the parts of aircraft.”Bishop Allan Klayee, Manager Director of the Liberia Airport Authority
The LAA boss disclosed that his administration has also been pushing for the return of Delta Airlines, but the firm is only willing to do cargo transportation for now, he said.
“I accepted it that in as much as they can start with cargo, who knows, when we progress we can continue with the issue of passengers. We also talked about training packages for different areas in the airline industry that they have on mind,” MD Klayee said.
“We are expecting [them] in the first week in December to do their feasibility studies as to what they can do with the discussions we had with them.”
Delta Flights returned to Liberia in 2010 appeared to be a boost for the country’s economy but airline would later quit its flight to the country due to several issues including the dilapidated condition of the runway.
Meanwhile, the LAA management said it is looking to demolish and reconstruct the old terminal, which will serve as Terminal B and provide more space for passengers.
“We’ve been traveling and meeting some partners who are interested – we’ve been getting around [and] other people are interested in partnering with us to make sure we do terminal B,” he said of the proposed project, adding that negotiations are underway with several foreign partners to ensure the project is successful.
“We are also in touch with a group of companies in Kumasi, Ghana for them to come and do our new terminal building.”
He said the airport will see some new airlines joining its traffic including Air France, which recently signed an agreement with the management of the RIA.
However, the LAA boss was quick to refute speculations that Qatar and Emirates Airlines will resume flights to Liberia soon but revealed that early discussions have begun with a major Turkish airline.
“We are in touch with Air Turkish but that talk has not ended yet, but we have a great prospect – we believe that it will yield fruit,” he said.
“We believe that this country is heading somewhere, we just need the support of everybody.”
We’ve been traveling and meeting some partners who are interested – we’ve been getting around [and] other people are interested in partnering with us to make sure we do terminal B”ishop Allan Klayee, Manager Director of the Liberia Airport Authority
While the LAA is working assiduously to bring the RIA to international standard, the management also has its eyes set on improving the country’s eight domestic air scripts across the country.
A recent assessment shows that some are dilapidated while others are on course. The James Spriggs Payne Airport in Monrovia, which is not operational at the moment, is the primary domestic airport in the country and a plan is being drafted to replace the current runway – which is bad condition.
“We got in touch with some partners who can help us … because no matter how we want to do domestic airport, when Spriggs is not up we can’t do that because Spriggs is the lifeline to all the airstrips,” said MD Klayee, while stressing that major renovation of the James Spriggs Filed will commence before the end of the second quarter of 2020.
Commenting of the inadequacy of electricity supply to the RIA, which is a major problem affecting the aviation sector, he disclosed that 80% of the airport expenditure goes toward power supply, which is considered quite costly.
To remedy the situation ahead of improvement on the national power grid, he said the management is in contact with partners to construct a solar panel dime to supply the airport with electricity and sell the excess.