The Managing Director of Slok Air International, Alhajie Idris Abdul Kareem, has blamed their recent decision to increase air fares to Sierra Leone on the high handling charges imposed by the Sierra Leone government.
“According to Mr. Abdul Kareem, they have categories of fares ranging from introductory fares provisional (two weeks fares to Freetown), 30-day, 45-day and a year’s fares. He said the Introductory/ Provisional fare was supposed to be for only three months but they left it to three years.
He said that “handling charges including landing, navigational, lightening, handling (passenger handling and under wing, packing baggage) are handled by Sierra Leone authorities or else the plane is grounded.”
He called on ECOWAS to cut these charges in member countries because, in his opinion, they would be helping business people. He further suggested that ECOWAS should have a central point where flights should pay to avoid paying at every landing point. “ECOWAS should review the taxes,” he said, adding that the price of fuel should be reduced in all ECOWAS member states. He called on the ECOWAS parliament to help in this regard, saying that there could not be a full integration if flights are very expensive. He said that going to Freetown by road is sickening but noted that if charges were made cheaper it would have been easier.
Mr. Abdul Kareem said President Jammeh deserves a big commendation for the 55% reduction on tariff and called on other countries, especially Senegal, to emulate the gesture. He said that tariff in Dakar is high so that travelling there is high too. “All African government airlines are not functioning now, including Air Mauritania, the latest to be grounded,” he revealed.
The Slok MD said fares have not been increased on a general scale but that only Sierra Leone is affected because they would otherwise lose revenue. “In business we should make people happy and we too should be happy,” he reasoned.