President Sirleaf and Delta Airlines Talk Direct Flights

Tuesday, 22nd May 2007
Atlanta, USA - American billionaire Robert Johnson is exerting his influence to facilitate the resumption of direct flights from the United States of America to Liberia. At a meeting in Atlanta on Monday, organized by Mr. Johnson, the Chairman of Delta Airlines, Mr. James Whitehurst described as good, prospects for direct flights to Liberia by Delta.  Mr. Whitehurst, however, said certain measures must be put in place to satisfy Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) conditions for the resumption of direct flights from the United States to Liberia. The measures include the privatisation of handling, and the provision of adequate security at the airport, as well as the upgrading of aviation equipment to international standards. Once these measures have been put in place, the Delta Chief informed President Johnson Sirleaf, direct flights between the United States and Liberia could resume.

The President, has meanwhile, directed Liberiaís Aviation boss, Mr. Archie Williams and Liberiaís Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Charles Minor, to communicate with the Delta Airlines, a request by government to include Liberia as one of its routes to Africa.

An Executive Mansion dispatch from Atlanta, quotes the Liberian leader as saying, the resumption of direct flights between the United States and Liberia would further attract investors to the country and help to open more investment opportunities for Liberia.

Aviation Chief, Williams, said he was optimistic that Liberia would meet all conditions for the resumption of direct flights to the United States.  He disclosed that the Federal Aviation Authority of the United States has provided through USAID, 3.4 million United States dollars to upgrade facilities at the Roberts International Airport to internationally acceptable standards. USAID, he said is in the process of scheduling bidding for the contract to commence the upgrading of the Airport.

In a related development, the President has invited the Crane Group International to visit Liberia and survey the investment potentials of the country. The Group, which specializes in building construction, said it is interested in investing in affordable housing in Liberia. President Johnson Sirleaf, at a meeting in Atlanta, informed the group that government would welcome any private sector initiative that would provide affordable housing for its citizens. Government, she said could provide land to facilitate the project, since it does not have the capacity to provide financing.

The President was speaking in Atlanta on Monday during talks with private investors including the Head of Crane Group International, Neal Balasny, who assured the Liberian leader that his Company has the expertise to build low-cost pre-fabricated homes in sixty days at affordable cost. Crane Group International, which has embarked on a similar project in South Africa, has accepted the Presidentís invitation to visit Liberia.