-MD Bishop Klayee discloses
The Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), Bishop John Allan Klayee, has disclosed plans for the construction of another terminal to be named ‘Terminal B’ at the Roberts International Airport (RIA), to allow the passage of more flights through the airport.
The major entry point to Liberia, Roberts International Airport, can now boast of a modern state-of-the-art terminal that is attractive to both citizens and foreigners visiting and leaving the country.
Liberia, since the war ended in 2003, opened its first modern airport terminal this year, following a loan agreement between the Government of Liberia (signed during the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration) and the People’s Republic of China. Erection of the terminal commenced in 2016 and was finally opened during the Liberian Independence Week in July, 2019.
With high ambition to get more than what is available now; MD Klayee told journalists on November 5, 2019 that, among other things, the RIA Management is planning to construct another terminal, which will see the old terminal building demolished.
According to the Managing Director, the [new] Terminal A building and rehabilitation of the runway were two major projects completed to make RIA accessible and attractive to flights. Nevertheless, he said constructing a new terminal in addition to what is currently available will draw in more flights that will enable the institution to generate income.
At the same time, Bishop Klayee has disclosed that they have negotiated with the Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia (USA), to construct an Aircraft Maintenance Center in Liberia, which according to him will make the country a hub for aircraft spare parts and repair.
Furthermore, the Managing Director, having visited a number of countries in recent days to connect Liberia’s airport with other airports around the world, disclosed that the Management has negotiated with Delta Airlines and it has agreed to resume flights to Liberia, albeit only for cargo business. During Delta Airlines’s previous business in Liberia, the airline ran a very attractive service, flying passengers directly from Liberia to the United States up to 2014, but cancelled its flight due to unspecified reasons.
The Government of Liberia reported earlier this week that it just concluded negotiations for the return of Air France to Liberia. One of the key issues that led to Air France’s earlier termination of services in Liberia was the faulty runway at RIA. Now that the airport boasts of a “brand new runway”, Klayee said, Air France is encouraged to resume service to Liberia.
Another airline the RIA Management is negotiating with to extend services to Liberia is Turkish Airlines.
Currently, airlines that make constant lands at RIA include Kenya Airways, Brussels Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Africa World Airlines, Air Peace and Air Cote d’Ivoire.
Bishop Klayee’s ambition to see a new terminal and inflow of airplanes in Liberia, however, is confronted by some challenges; one of which is the cost of power to run the airport.
“We use generators to power the airport, with 80% of our income at the RIA going to the cost of power to run the airport. In this direction, we are in contact with a company that will build a solar energy plant here to help address the situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, a South African airline company, Klayee added, is strongly considering coming to Liberia to provide domestic flight services.
According to him, domestic air travel has also come to a halt because of the outdated condition of the James Spriggs Payne Airfield, which he described as the lifeline for domestic flights in Liberia.
“Domestic flights will have much positive impact on the ordinary citizens in the country considering the bad road condition that makes it difficult for a lot of people to reach out across the country. When we have domestic flights, it is easy to transport an ill person from rural parts of the country to a medical facility, and it will be easy to travel to inaccessible counties like Maryland and other parts of south-east,” Bishop Klayee said.
In an effort to address this problem, Bishop Klayee said, they have contacted a company that will rehabilitate the James Spriggs Payne Airfield, which has been inactive in the air transport activities close to two years now. When rehabilitated, he said, LAA will do some minor repair on airstrips across the country to pave a way for resumption of domestic flight service.
Prior to the press briefing by the Liberia Airport Authority Management, information circulated on various news media and social media platforms that sewage lines and air conditioning equipment at the RIA Terminal A were already experiencing major malfunctions, since the terminal opened in July.
Therefore, journalists were invited to tour the Terminal A facilities and operations, including escalators, elevator, digital flight information displays, as well as the airport’s solutions to the afore-mentioned sewage and air conditioning problems. The Terminal also features shops and restaurants, as well as an exclusive lounge for premier travelers.
The old terminal that was destroyed during the war has been renovated to host the LAA Management and other administrative departments.