In a bid to promote regional connectivity and to make air transport accessible to Sierra Leoneans in line with the New Direction mandate, Air Senegal has commenced its flight operation to the Freetown International Airport (FNA), Lungi.

The inaugural operation started with a conducted tour of the flight led by the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Kabineh Kallon, followed by the conduction of the Foreign Aircraft Safety Assessment Program (FASAP), which is the normal routine inspection conducted by the SLCAA’s flight operations team in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 6 of the Chicago Convention.

Presenting the flight, Air Senegal’s CEO, Ibrahima Kane, said that the opening of the route hinged on a common will of the two Heads of State, President Julius Maada Bio and President Macky Sall, who shared the need to connect the two countries during one of their State meetings.

“The Dakar-Freetown service will offer connections via Dakar, to all the destination already serviced by Air Senegal which are Paris, Marselle, Lyon, Barcelona, Milan, Casablanca, Douala, Libreville, Cotonou, Abidjan, Nouakchott, Banjul, Bissau, Conakry, Praia and Bamako. New York and Washington will join Air Senegal’s destinations in September 2021,” the CEO said.

In his statement, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Senegal, His Excellency Alhaji Braima Elvis Koroma, noted that the Air Senegal flight came as a relief to passengers in both countries as the flight would further boost trade, investment and tourism between Sierra Leone and Senegal.

Speaking on behalf of the SLCAA Director-General, the Chairman Board of Directors, Patrick Jaia Kaikai, expressed that it was a manifestation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), an initiative that seeks to create a single unified air transport market in Africa to advance the liberalization of civil aviation in Africa and act as an impetus to the continent’s economic integration agenda.

The Chairman added that SLCAA remained committed to ensuring the safety and security of the operations of Air Senegal in accordance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs).

In his keynote address, the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Kabineh Kallon, revealed that the commencement of the Air Senegal flight to Sierra Leone was due to the continued bilateral engagements between the Government of Senegal and the Government of Sierra Leone. “I am grateful to His Excellency President Macky Sall and His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio for promoting and strengthening the existing bilateral ties between the two sister countries,” the Minister expressed.

“The introduction of Air Senegal into the Freetown International Airport (FNA) route will facilitate air travel and increase connectivity options to other parts of the world with affordable fares to stimulate growth in traffic and revenues to the potential benefits of the two countries.”

The Minister assured the Air Senegal team of his Ministry’s continued support in providing the enabling environment for a seamless operation into the Sierra Leone market and used the occasion to call for more developments from the Government of Senegal.

Giving the closing courtesy, the Deputy Minister of Transport and Aviation, Rex Bonapha, expressed thanks to Air Senegal for this great venture and assured them of the government’s support to their operations, and wished them a happy stay.