Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 September 2018:
Air travellers to Sierra Leone and Liberia have been hit by report from KLM that it is cutting its services to both countries. The Dutch carrier has made this decision in order to add new flight service to the American city of Las Vegas.
This news comes as the government of Sierra Leone and the mayor of Freetown are making plans to improve tourism in the country.
Sierra Leone is one of the least favoured destinations for tourism on the continent, comparing very poorly to the Gambia and Senegal.
Fewer than 200 passengers arrive every day at Sierra Leone’s Lungi International Airport, and this is bad business for international flight carriers.
But carriers such as Air France, Air Maroc, Turkish Airlines, and Brussels Airlines will continue their services to the West African cities.
According to a report by Air Transport World (ATW), the Dutch SkyTeam carrier KLM will stop services to Freetown in Sierra Leone and Monrovia in Liberia from summer 2019, freeing up capacity for 3X-weekly flights between Amsterdam and Las Vegas.
“In order to open Las Vegas as a new destination, changes had to be made to KLM’s network. KLM was forced to revise its portfolio of destinations sooner than expected partly because of Schiphol’s slot restrictions.
“From March 29, 2019, KLM will stop flying to Freetown in Sierra Leone and Monrovia in Liberia. While the Freetown/Monrovia route launched in 2017 would have previously been given more time to grow in terms of performance, KLM is now compelled to deploy its fleet and slots differently,” KLM said, announcing the cuts.
Air France will continue to operate a direct service to Freetown from Paris Charles de Gaulle. In place of the two West African links, KLM is adding 2X-weekly Las Vegas from June 6, 2019, building to 3X-weekly on July 2, 2019.
“Las Vegas will become KLM’s 18th North Atlantic destination,” KLM president and CEO Pieter Elbers said.
He added the new route will increase access to US west-coast connecting flights.
The route will be served by 294-seat Boeing 787-9s, with 30 seats in world business class, 45 in economy comfort and 219 in economy.
“The new KLM flights will extend Air France-KLM’s transatlantic network and strengthen its joint venture portfolio with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines,” KLM said.