Commercial Flight Operations Will Soon Resume, Assures President Bio

Tuesday 23rd June 2020
State House, Freetown

As President Bio eases some COVID-19 restrictions, he assures the travelling public that the Freetown International Airport will soon resume its usual commercial flight operations. 

During yesterday’s press briefing at State House, His Excellency the President, Brig. (Rtd.) Julius Maada  Bio disclosed that commercial flights would resume in the very short run, noting further that the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority had held series of consultative engagements with aviation stakeholders and other implementing partners in a bid to reopen the Freetown International Airport after it was 
closed for scheduled operations.

“The SLCAA has had extensive consultations with stakeholders and considered developments in the 
aviation sector around Africa and in the world. Countries are opening their airspaces; a broad inter-
sectoral body will soon finalise rational, effective, and affordable pre-arrival and departure protocols 
that are in consonance with best practices elsewhere and WHO guidelines,” he said.

“We will also soon install technology at the Lungi International Airport that will help us monitor, test, and trace all travellers. Once all measures are in place, commercial flights will resume in the very short 
run”, HE Bio concluded.

Responding to questions asked by the media, the Director-General of the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority, Moses Tiffa Baio informed the gathering that the SLCAA and other aviation stakeholders have had engagements for a seamless start of flight operations at the Freetown International Airport.

“The reopening of the airport is contingent on the safety, security, and public health measures that we will put in place for arriving and departing passengers. Yes, we want to reopen the airport but we do 
not want the aviation industry to serve as a vector to transmit COVID-19 for the second time. We have  developed 20 advisory circulars which are in the form of guidance materials that will guide the entire  operations of the airport during this trying time,” he said.

According to the Director, the aviation industry had reviewed its business processes and procedures to  reduce human contact and maintain social distancing at both arrival and departure. He further revealed  that SLCAA together with other aviation actors and the National Tourist Board had conducted a joint assessment of hotel facilities, Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), and the Airport Clinic which would  serve as holding facility for all arriving passengers.

DG Baio also expressed that the SLCAA and IOM had also conducted a gap analysis to help explain what obtained at the airport and what would be implemented amongst was the automation of Passenger Health Locator forms while maintaining that this would also help the surveillance pillar in the area of contact tracing of passengers that would be tested positive on arrival. “We want to reopen with a better system that is resilient and sustainable,” he concluded.