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Liberia, Aid Groups Criticize British Airways’ Decision to Extend Suspension of Flights


The U.K. flag carrier is being accused by aid workers and the Liberian government of hampering Ebola relief efforts.

British Airways is receiving pushback from multiple stakeholders after extending their stop on flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Telegraph reports that the U.K. flag carrier announced its suspension of flights to Ebola-affected countries, which was initially scheduled to last through December, will continue until March 2015.

In August, the airline first ended its weekly scheduled flights from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Lungi International Airport (FNA) in Sierra Leone, as well as all flights to Roberts International Airport (ROB) in Liberia. According to The Wall Street Journal, British Airways cancelled the flights “due to the deteriorating public health situation in both countries.”

Officials within the Liberian government have since expressed their concerns over British Airways’ plan of action. “We need as many airlines coming in to this region as possible, because the cost of bringing in supplies and aid workers is becoming prohibitive,” Liberia’s information minister, Lewis Brown, told The Telegraph. “I can understand BA’s initial reaction back in August, but they must remember this is a global fight now.”

Aid organizations dedicated to international relief have joined Liberian officials in speaking out against the carrier’s decision. The organizations argue that reducing the number flights into the Ebola-affected countries limits the number of opportunities to transport supplies, medicine and relief workers necessary for handling the outbreak.

“Airlines have shut down many flights and the unintended consequence has been to slow and hamper the relief effort, paradoxically increasing the risk of this epidemic spreading across countries,” director of Doctors Without Borders in Brussels, Christopher Stokes, told The Guardian. “We have to stop Ebola at source and this means we have to be able to go there.”

The Telegraph reports that two airlines will maintain their scheduled flights into both Liberia and Sierra Leone. Brussels Airlines will continue to operate direct flights from Brussels into ROB, while Royal Air Maroc will fly into Liberia via Casablanca. Both airlines service Sierra Leone as well.

[Photo: iStock]

Comments are Closed.
Yachtman October 12, 2014

How about the crew? Should they be forced to operate into Ebola affected countries? It's not just about a corporate decision, but the duty of care to their employees.,

Sabai October 11, 2014

Maybe if the kleptocracy that rules Liberia were less avaricious, Madame Sirleaf wouldn't need her beggar's bowl quite so much. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2012/nov/01/liberia-johnson-sirleaf-nepotism-corruption

go_around October 10, 2014

BA is a private company. Aid workers etc should be looking to national governments to fly in supplies on military or cargo planes, not on private passenger operators. Why on earth. should BA operate planes to these places and then expect pax elsewhere to happy get on board a potentially infected plane?