Air France has indefinitely suspended flights to Sierra Leone, due to low passenger volume and high taxes. The suspension of airline operations will take effect in October of this year, and this development comes shortly after the opening of the country’s newly constructed airport.
The news was confirmed by Dr. David Sengeh, the newly appointed Chief Minister of the Government of Sierra Leone, via a Tweet on July 18, 2023, after he had engaged in discussions with Air France’s General Manager for West Africa.
“I’d a good call with Air France GM West Africa to understand the decision to suspend some routes in the region (Freetown and Banjul) starting this winter- long impact of covid, flight availability, and volume of travellers,” said Dr. Sengeh.
This is not the first time Air France has suspended operations in Sierra Leone. During the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014, the airline halted flights to Freetown due to concerns over the transmission of the deadly virus. However, operations resumed in 2019.
Critics have attributed the decline in passenger numbers to high taxes, expensive ticket prices, and other costs associated with travelling through Freetown International Airport. As a result, many passengers seek alternative routes for their travel needs.
Dr. Sengeh expressed hope for new players to enter the market and emphasized his optimism for Air France’s eventual return.