Banjul International Airport by default has relegated itself into a regional airport.
The construction of Blaise Diagne Airport at Diamnadio coupled with its geoproximity to Banjul has dealt a final blow to Banjul Airport. The more our authorities put restrictive tariffs on this public infrastructure, the more they make it to be less attractive.
The use of air transportation by Gambians have grown significantly over the past six years as the resumption of democratic rule has boosted the need and desire of many diasporans to visit home more often.
The down side of this new phenomenon is that Gambia as a destination is encountering a leakage as it relates to its air traffic statistics. Blaise Diagne Airport is fast becoming a final disembarkation point for many air travellers to Gambia.
The short 3 and half hour drive to Gambia in addition to the availability of multiple flights at a least cost makes it an airport of choice for many. Equally, Gambians have been using the airport as a point of departure.
What does this signify? Well in lay man’s term it basically implies that our national air statistics are changing for the worse because the total number of travellers in and out bound Gambia are being shared by these two airports. It is safe to state that 1 in 5 travellers destined to Banjul end their journey at Dakar airport and 1 in 10 passengers from Gambia board their flight from Dakar. This figure is likely to grow due to the non-responsiveness of our airport.
When life gives you lemon, make the best lemonade out of the lemons. Gambia should reposition itself to be a feeder airport for Blaise Diagne Airport by doing a milk run along the coast (Freetown, Monrovia, Conakry & Bissau) for onward dropping to Dakar.
The duties and heavy handedness of our custom officials further exacerbate a dire situation. God bless the Gambia but our failed aviation policies are fast making us more of a regional airport than an international airport. It’s our own making due to corruption and incompetence. A great morning to all and food for thought.