MONROVIA – The Roberts International Airport (RIA), has come under the spotlight again for the wrong reasons – the Americans have warned their citizens to mindful when traveling to Liberia because the airport has failed to meet safety, security and operational standards.
In a travel alert issued on Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia noted that the country’s only international airport has consistently had shortcomings with international audits.
The Embassy, however, acknowledged steps being taken by the Liberia Airport Authority and the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority to address these shortcomings at the airport.
Irrespective of this acknowledgment, the Embassy advised its citizens contemplating on traveling to Liberia or out of the RIA to be aware of the several airport safety, security, and emergency response capabilities remain below international standards.
It can be recalled that in January, Brussels Airlines debunked a press statement issued by the Liberia Airport Authority that the RIA had successfully passed audits conducted by Brussels Airlines.
The Airport Authority had disclosed that the audit ranged from compliance, and calibration of the navigation equipment, air traffic control tower, runway, and stand as well to Security setup.
The LAA and LCAA statement indicated that after those responses, the SN Brussels team expressed delight to that in the improvement made by the Management teams of both LAA and LCAA.
However, in a rejoinder sent to FrontPageAfrica, SN Brussels indicated that the LAA and LCAA publication was entirely incorrect.
According to Brussels Airlines, it recognizes the progress made by the LAA toward fixing certain issues at the airport, but there is still a lot more to do.
The airline which is so far the only airline flying directly to Europe from Monrovia stated that its audit of the Roberts International Airport has not been closed.
The Airline clarified that its presence in Monrovia and the different meetings that took place were set up to speed up the progress of the audit.
In September last year, SN Brussels canceled flights to Liberia citing safety concerns.
A statement from SN Brussels disclosed that it was forced to cancel its flights between Brussels and Monrovia because the Roberts International Airport was suffering from certain deficiencies that do not allow them to dispatch their aircraft and have them perform an approach and landing in accordance with their operating procedures.
Belgium’s Aviation laws prevent its aircraft from landing without a functioning navigation system.
FrontPageAfrica gathered from aviation sources that SN Brussels had on many occasions been landing using its own systems and by sight.
SN Brussels: “It is of the utmost importance that we operate each and every flight in a safe, secure and compliant manner. Therefore, we urge the airport of Monrovia to comply with the regulations implied by ICAO as soon as possible. In the meantime, Brussels Airlines sees itself forced to cancel its flights between Brussels and Monrovia. All passengers impacted by these cancellations will be contacted by Brussels Airlines.”
However, the airline resumed flights to Monrovia the same week after it was assured by the Liberian government that the safety measure had been repaired and were fully functional.
Many airlines have aborted landing in Monrovia due to poor lighting of the runway. Some airlines were forced to land in neighboring Sierra Leone until it is sure of good visibility before returning to Monrovia.