Liberia: Roberts International Airport Management Apologizes for Power Outage, Cites Technical Issues

Monrovia — The management of the Roberts International Airport has issued an apology for disruption in the supply of electricity at the airport.

In a statement, the airport’s authority said this is due to technical glitches being experienced by its primary and secondary power sources.

The statement signed by Mr. Jero Mends-Cole, Port Manager Officer-in-Charge states: “The Management of the Liberia Airport Authority-Roberts International Airport informs the public, airlines and port users of technical glitches being experienced by its primary and secondary power Sources. Management is making frantic efforts to restore power supply in the earliest and will provide regular updates as to the progress being made. Management regrets the inconveniences caused by this incident.”

Electricity supply at Liberia’s sole international airport has been relatively stable recently. However, the announcement by the interim management has garnered public attention, including that of travelers.

This incident echoes the airport’s electricity crisis in 2022, which many believed resulted in major airlines suspending flights to Liberia.

In 2022, under the management of Martin Hayes, the airport faced operational constraints, particularly with nighttime lighting, posing risks to passengers, including then-president George Manneh Weah. On March 9, 2022, President Weah and other officials encountered darkness upon their return from the United Arab Emirates, where they participated in EXPO DUBAI 2020.

Twenty days later, travelers again were compelled to use the torch of their respective phones to provide light in the terminals at the airport. A video, which went viral on social media, showed the travelers complaining and expressing serious frustration over the “disgraceful” situation while awaiting their respective flights for departure along with their luggage.

One of the continent’s popular airliners, Royal Air Maroc, was compelled to abort landing at the RIA dark runways. The flight attempted landing several times by using the navigation system, but was not successful.

Eyewitnesses said as the plane was landing, the runway lights went off; forcing the flight to divert to Sierra Leone. The inability of the flight landing at RIA left several passengers who were to board the flight stranded at the Airport.

Air France, which recommenced commercial flights to Liberia in 2020, ceased its operation to Monrovia in April 2022.

On 9th March 2022, Mr. Jean-Marc Pouchol, Air France Vice President for Africa, and Mr Jean-Luc Mevellec, regional Director of West Africa, invited and met with Samuel A. Wlue, then Minister of Transport, at Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris, France to inform him about Air France operations to Liberia.

“Based on the economic performance, the current geopolitical situation and Air France-KLM’s overall plan to restore its profitability, Air France has decided to suspend its flights to Monrovia, Liberia, as of the end of April 2022. Customers already booked on flights after the end of April, will be informed individually. The customers concerned can change their travel plans or cancel the trip and request a refund. Air France would like to thank the government of Liberia and the airport authorities for their continued support in the operation of this route” Air France stated in the statement issued.

Sources hinted that the airline’s decision was due to the risk the lack of stable electricity supply poses to the lives of its passengers and properties.

The electricity problem at the airport will be one of the major challenges the new Boakai-Koung administration will have to address in its bid to revive the Liberian economy. Last week President Joseph Boakai appointed Massaquoi M. Kamara as Officer-In-Charge of the Roberts International Airport. Kamara will now have to lead the team in addressing the situation at hand.

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