By Louis Ibah.
Medview Airline has commenced scheduled commercial flight operations into Freetown, Sierra Leone and Monrovia, Liberia from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos as part of its international route expansion programme.
The airline deployed a Boeing 737-400 aircraft for the inaugural flight which took off from Lagos with a stopover in Accra, Ghana before moving into Monrovia and Freetown as the final destination. The inaugural flight flown by Captain William Inyang recorded about 95 per cent passenger load and had top officials from the Nigerian diplomatic and trade communities in Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as members of the aviation industry and the media on board. Managing Director of Medview Airlines, Alhaji Muneer Bankole who briefed journalists on board the aircraft said the feat was made possible through the assistance of the aviation regulatory institutions in Nigeria as well as the Nigerian High Commissions in Liberia and Sierra Leone. “We are very happy that this flight operations to Liberia and Sierra Leone is successful and that the aircraft is loaded with passengers,” said Bankole. “We will be operating for three days, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and we are so happy that we are making a huge contribution to boost trade relations within the West African region through our airline,” added Bankole. While the flight between Lagos and Acrra lasted about 45minutes; the Accra to Monrovia flight took about 1hour.35minutes; while between Monrovia and Freetown the flight duration was almost 45minutes. The return leg of the journey from Freetown to Accra lasted about 2hours, while Accra to Lagos took about 45minites. Bankole said the airline would also be creating hundreds of jobs for citizens of the two countries even as it hopes to increase its flight frequencies to a daily one in the months ahead. Pastor Samuel Kamara, a Sierra Leonean who was one of the passengers on board the inaugural flight told Daily Sun how they were paying about $1,000 on the route from Nigeria to Sierra Leone. “Airlines from northern and eastern Africa were charging us fares that ranged from $1,000 to $2,000 because we don’t have a national carrier, but today I paid $300 on Medview from Accra to Freetown and I hope the competition they have brought will force airfares down,” he added. Ambassador Gladys Modupeola Quist-Adebiyi, who received the team from Nigeria in Freetown lauded the management of the Nigerian carrier for taking steps to ease travelers plight within the sub-region. “There are over 10,000 Nigerians living and doing businesses in Sierra Leone. Movement has been a major impediment to trade and Medview coming here will increase this movement and facilitate integration within the West African sub-region,” she said. Medview Airline already operates three international routes, Accra, Ghana; Gatwick London, UK; and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. And it plans to add Dubai, United Arab Emirates to the list by 2017.