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Friday, September 18, 2020

No operations between Freetown and Banjul – Gambia Bird clarifies

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“Gambia Bird Airlines would like to clarify that the operation from London to Freetown, starting on 17th October, will not contravene the suspension of Banjul- Freetown-Banjul operation.

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“Gambia Bird Airlines, without prejudices, will continue to keep the directive of the Government of The Gambia dated 7th and 11th of August 2014 respectively, prohibiting the picking up of passengers from Freetown to Banjul. Just to remember: Gambia Bird in compliance with the spirit and substance of this directive thereby suspended all its direct flights between Freetown and Banjul.

“Gambia Bird will fly from London to Freetown twice a week, offering a humanitarian corridor between London and Sierra Leone to help tackle Ebola. Our aim is not only to ensure that vital humanitarian aid can reach those who need it most, but also hope to reunite families and friends with their loved ones,” the statement explained.

The CEO of the Kairaba Avenue headquartered airline added: “Approval for the route was sought from and granted by the ministry here and the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority. We are therefore thanking them for the approval and the trust reposed in our airline.”

Meanwhile, the leader of opposition National Reconciliation Party, Hamat Bah, has issued a press release on the matter which stated as follows:

“After having read in The Standard newspaper the story captioned ‘Gambia Bird to resume flights to Ebola hit Sierra Leone’ from London from October 17, my party and a lot of other concerned Gambians have asked me to write to the authorities and express their total disapproval in resuming air flights between the Gambia and the Ebola affected countries of our sub-region. While our party has acknowledged government’s   preventive measures to combat the spread of the disease to our dear country, we did not share the notion and belief to lift the ban on air travel from the affected countries to The Gambia. 

“Researchers and experts have forecast that due to the airline connections between France and the Ebola affected countries there is 75% possibility that France can be affected by the end of October and there is 50% possibility for Britain. Our country   though free of Ebola, has already become a victim for being part of West Africa. Some cruise liners have suspended their coming to The Gambia. Some tour operators have   either cancelled or delayed their flights until December while some tourists have also   cancelled their bookings. Therefore the resumption of flights can pose a serious threat to our tourism and economy in general by stifling the employment prospects, foreign exchange earnings and a lot of other commercial activities, Hotels, market vendors, taxi drivers and a lot of others who depend on the industry for their survival. 

“Now, our concern should be how to address these major concerned. In our opinion the government of the day should not accept any pressure from any organisation or quarter because there are new cases emerging in the Ebola-affected country concern. Our national interest should supersede the commercial interest of any company. If Nigeria could be affected with Ebola by an air passenger and America is currently dealing with Ebola because of airline passenger, which guarantees can government give that the same situation will not happen in The Gambia. The Gambia is economically different from those Ebola affected countries. Those countries have natural resources they can fall back on immediately after the Ebola crisis, while The Gambia depends mostly on tourism. 

“Therefore, in lieu of some of the mentioned facts, we are calling on the government to strengthen their adopted policy on the Ebola crisis and rescind the decision of allowing the Gambia Bird to resume their operations on the 17 of this month until further notice. And for the international community, we call on them to give substantial financial support to Ebola free countries for them to strengthen their capacity to continue the fight for the prevention of Ebola. For all concerned Gambians, we should all be resolute, decisive and continuously fight for the prevention of Ebola as it’s a question of life and death.”

However, the Gambia Bird release clearly states the resumption of the London to Freetown services starting on 17 October, will not affect The Gambia.

“Gambia Bird Airlines, without prejudices, will continue to keep the directive of the Government of The Gambia dated 7th and 11th of August 2014 respectively, prohibiting the picking up of passengers from Freetown to Banjul,” it reiterated.

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