Saturday, May 23, 2020 9:29 am
By Ebenezer Machauley
Freetown International Airport (FNA) Is Sierra Leone’s Airport Authority (SLAA) major hub within the sub region. Our Airport welcomes huge number of travelers all years through from different destinations, especially during peak periods. FNA connects travelers to the rest of the African continent and the world over. Our airport offers effective services i.e. both aeronautical and non- aeronautical. The airport provides basic aviation facilities in line with The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO’s) best standards and recommended practices for in and out bound flights, travelers, business investors, airlines operators, agencies and the wider travelling public. At this juncture, I would like to take the onus on behalf of the Board of Directors, Management and staff of The Sierra Leone Airports Authority to extensively express my heartfelt thanks to all for being with us through thick and thin, in making us achieve the high ideas of the organization.
SLAA’s mandate is to ensure the organization’s set goals are achieved, thereby ensuring the provision of a safe and secured environment for airport operations, thus making facilitation seamless for passengers to enjoy their journey. SLAA was established as an autonomous and self-sustaining body, with the mandate to manage the Freetown International Airport, Hastings Airfield and other aerodromes across the country’s provincial districts. By extension, it behoves the Board of Directors and Top Management of the Sierra Leone Airports Authority to transform the FNA into a safe air bridge, capable of competing with other airports within the African continent and beyond. Management is working very hard to enable travelers make their journeys safe, comfortable and easy, and for operational services and facilitation to continue as seamlessly as possible every day.
The state, under the administration of His Excellency, Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, the Ministry of Transport and Aviation appointed a professional, hardworking and committed Board of Directors to foster the inner passion of His Excellency in the growth and safety of the state in promoting the aviation sector. The New Direction believes that a well-developed airport, will serve as a source of employment and vehicle to economic growth for the country. This is why government has prioritized expanding Construction of a new Terminal Building, rejuvenating and maintaining the airport amidst the economic difficulties.
To provide a safe, user friendly and effective airport system, operate a sustainable airport with minimal impairment to the environment. Moreover, it is to maintain airport facilities to international standards by utilizing optimum human material resources and to provide services to the community within the framework of national development objective.
To transform Freetown International Airport to a regional hub, facilitate the trans-shipment of cargo and passengers thereby rendering Freetown International Airport an attractive destination of choice for all passengers worldwide
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
We are proud to say, we have a well constituted Board of Directors, proudly from The Government, through the Ministry of Transport and Aviation. This highly professional, dedicated and committed Board is delivering its best on policy guidance, effective oversight, monitoring Management’s periodic activities, regular evaluation and assessment of staff, projects implementation, initiating policies and their development for the growth of the organization.
We currently have 524 of highly motivated and professional employees representing various departments with diverse skills. This team is poised and committed to ensuring that the corporate image of the organization is up as evident in giving their best which has enabled us to achieve thus far amidst all the challenges faced. This makes me very proud and therefore accord them the deserved kudos.
OUR 2020 DELIVERY AGENDA
During the year under review with the commitment of all stakeholders, Sierra Leone Airports Authority was able to achieve the following:
In order to maintain a consistent power supply at the airport, Management procured a 1.1 Megawatt generator to serve as backup in case there is power cut from EDSA. This is to ensure that no gap is allowed or a break down in the consistent electricity supply at the airport for effective operations and service delivery.
PROCUREMENT OF FIRE FIGHTING ENGINE
To ensure the safety of flight and our entire aerodrome, we have procured the latest firefighting engine which is one of its kinds in the sub region. This has changed the FNA status from category 7 to category 8 and consequently has opened doors of opportunity for FNA to now accommodate bigger aircraft in our aerodrome.
Safety is the highest priority at the FNA. An ACI APEX safety Assessment has been done alongside ICAO Audit exercise ahead of the certification later this year. This is important to us because we wanted the best for our travelers and at the same time making our aerodrome safe for both passengers and aircraft. For safety to thrive, we need an open culture that enables people to confidently report any safety deviations and swiftly implement improvements where all parties working in aviation remain committed to the highest possible safety standards. We have also set up suggestion boxes to give the wider traveling public and clients give their humble opinion on our operations at FNA.
We took a number of important aviation safety measures in 2018-2019 which witnessed the institution and integration of all Safety Management System (SMS) at the airport to help improve overall industrial safety and reduce the risk even further.
NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIP AND COOPERATION
FNA is a member of all global aviation organizations and adheres to all global standards set for the industry. We are a member of a network of all airports around the world.
COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA RELATION
SLAA takes pride in building and consistently showcasing the corporate image of the airport to meet International Standards as indicated by ICAO. To achieve this, we have a vibrant Public Relations and Marketing Departments to ensure the general public get the best information about and out of the airport. We have further placed suggestion boxes at strategic locations where they could be accessed by all and sundry. We have a service charter and an effective flight information display at the Terminal Building, a public address system to keep travelers informed of arriving and departing flights.
EMERGENCY OPERATION CENTER (EOC)
We have an updated Emergency Operation Center since 2019 with basic aviation facilities as required to fully operate in an emergency.
AUTOMATED CAR PARK
As part of our safety drive to maximize crowd control, we have installed an Automated Car Park at the Airport which also serves as a source of income generation for management to be better positioned to engage into other sustainable development projects.
HOLDING BAY FOR METERS AND GREETERS
To effectively decongest the Terminal Building and ensure the observance of safety measures, we have constructed holding bay meters and greeters at the land side. This serves as an excellent means of crowd control and reduces the potential rates of crime commission at the Terminal Building.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR)
On the part of CSR, Management has always raised its shoulders high for our host community. It has since the inception of the airport engaged in providing aid to the people of Kaffu Bullum and port Loko District as a whole in the form of scholarships to school- going pupils and university students, provide grants for the resurfacing of feeder roads, medical and clinical kits to Peripheral Health Centers, paying surface rents to chiefdom stakeholders, honoring letters from social and development organizations etc.
With the help of the state, under the administration of the New Direction, SLAA Management has worked in close collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare and the Hajj Committee to facilitate two successful Hajj programs in 2018 and 2019.
i. Government reduction of airport charges by 35% has limited funding to finance capital intensive projects
ii. Government waivers especially on Hajj movements with specific reference on airport charges
iii. Difficulty in debt collection from our business partners e.g. airlines and others
iiii. High cost of fuel procured for the generators and its maintenance due to power outage
v. No in-flight catering service and hotel to host flight crew
vi. Monopoly in aviation fuel supply by Total at the airport has lowered revenue generation.
We have marked our spot on the horizon by stating that FNA will be the most sustainable hub in the world. Along with the industry, we are committed to promoting cleaner and quieter atmosphere for better flight routes and procedures. The new airport charges at FNA include a financial incentive aimed at encouraging airlines to use FNA as a one stop aerodrome for various reasons. We have a bigger market share of intercontinental transfers in comparison to countries of a similar or bigger size, given the fact that FNA is at center on the aviation map.
The FNA, since the advent of the Covid-19 Coronavirus epidemic, has instituted stringent measures to prevent the importation of the virus, at the initial stage. In collaboration with key stakeholders in the Ministry of Health, the Military, the Police and other allied professional bodies, we instituted proactive measures to prevent the virus from entering the country before we finally shut down passagers airline operations.
I would like to end by making this resounding appeal to Government, national and international partners, airline operators, agencies, and airport stakeholders to galvanize efforts in helping move FNA this year into a newer and higher height. This will make us work on a unique way, making people first culture while ‘providing them with required facilities predicated on safety and security. With this, FNA will grow leaps and bounds looking into the future as we grow top-notch internationally.