A sub-regional air transport carrier, Air Mali, has launched its flights to the Roberts International Airport (RIA). This is in furtherance of its desire to strengthen the network by the opening and multiplication of routes linking several West and Central African capitals including Accra, Monrovia, Nouakchott, Brazzaville and soon Lagos and Freetown.
At a ceremony held at the RIA recently, Captain Moses Weafur, who proxy for the Director-General of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA), welcomed to the Malian delegation to Liberia. “We are blessed and can now get on with the business of the brotherly relationship between our two countries and do everything to foster your business,” he said. Captain Weafur promised that the LCAA, regulator for all aviation activities in Liberia, will do all it can to ensure that Air Mali succeeds in Liberia.
He expressed the LCAA’s satisfaction that Air Mali has met all the requirements and has been granted the go-ahead to fly their aircrafts to Liberia using McDonnell Douglass MD-87 and Bombardier CRJ 200.
Capt. Weafur noted that the Liberian President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf attached significant importance to the relationship and requested the LCAA to create the enabling environment for Air Mali to do business in Liberia.
However, the LCAA executive sounded a note of caution. “We expect the highest level of professionalism and commitment to the travelling public between our two countries,” adding further that the LCAA will guide Air Mali whenever they consult the Authority so that they (Air Mail) has a hitch-free operation to Liberia.
Mali’s Minister of Equipment and Transport, Mr. Ahmed Diane Semega, who headed the Air Mali delegation, said the resumption of flights between Bamako and Monrovia will become an effective instrument for development and cooperation between both countries especially in the area of trade.
Mr. Semega noted that the geographical proximity between Mali and Liberia is very short. He pointed out that the Freeport of Monrovia which is the closest seaport to Mali, should permit the two countries intensify the trade between both countries. “Considering such opportunity, Mali has very strategic reasons considering the necessity to create diverse opportunities for various sectors of the economy,” he said; adding that Mali and Liberia have dynamic cooperation that must be exploited.
He noted that this maiden Air Mali flight will re-energized this cooperation as well as promote the exchange of friendly ties between the two countries. He encouraged Air Mali to strengthen this route so as to serve as a basis for regional economic integration.
He also used the opportunity to transmit fraternal greetings from the President of Mali, His Excellency Amadou Toumani Touré to the President of Liberia, Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He also expressed thanks to the Liberian officials who facilitated every step of the process.
On behalf of the Liberian delegation, Senator Abel Massaley , who is also the Senate Chairman on Foreign Relations, and represented the Liberian leader at the program, requested the Minister of Equipment and Transport to convey his sentiments to the President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré for fulfilling his side of the commitment. “The solidarity of the Malian people with the Liberian people was clearly expressed during the course of the Liberian conflict when ECOWAS Heads of State and Government assembled in Bamako, Mali on November 29th, 1990 to ensure that there was a ceasefire,” Senator Massaley recounted; adding that the hospitality was further re-enforced by the authorization of the Malian Government to participate in ECOMOG. “So the peace we enjoy in Liberia today, Malians are primary contributors to that peace,” he stressed.
Senator Massaley said the re-establishment of air transportation between the two countries is to constructively engage and enhance economic relations; extending congratulations for the maiden flight to Liberia. He promised to convey their sentiments to the Liberian president, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as well as the 53rd National Legislature upon the resumption of the First Session next January.
Acting Foreign Minister, Mr. J. Levi Demmah, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, thanked the core team from both governments that made the agreement possible. He extended thanks to the Malian President for living up to the commitment that promised that Air Mali will begin a route to Liberia in 2011 which has come to pass.
The Chief Executive Officer of Air Mali, Mr. Abderahmane Berthe, said there will be direct flights three times a week using the route from Bamako to Accra to Monrovia and also from Monrovia to Dakar via Bamako. “This airline,” he said, “hopes to become the vector of exchanges between the French and English-speaking countries in Africa.”
He emphasized that in line with its commercial strategy, Air Mali has signed agreements with other foreign airlines which operate between Bamako and other destinations to give more connection options to their passengers.
For his customers, travel agencies and individual passengers, and international organizations, Mr. Berthe emphasized that despite the many difficulties the airline industry is facing now-a-days especially in the African region, their customers’ needs will be the core of Air Mali daily actions and concerns.
Air Mali, formerly Compagnie Aerienne du Mali, was founded in April 2005 following a partnership between the Republic of Mali and the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). The company rebranded itself as Air Mali on May 15th, 2009. Its aim is to set up a dependable and efficient network between the economic cities of west and central Africa and to improve connectivity between African countries.
After Accra, Ghana in June 2011, the starting of this new route between Bamako and Monrovia is an important milestone in their development strategy towards English-speaking countries. Monrovia becomes the 12th capital city to be served by Air Mali.