Sierra Leone — The Nigerian-owned airline Arik is set to resume its flights to Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown.
The airline said in a statement its first flight from Lagos to Freetown is expected on February 23rd.
It will be the first flight linking Nigeria and Sierra Leone by a Nigerian airline in over 18 months, since Arik followed other airlines in suspending flights to the three countries hardest hit by the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak.
Adebanji Ola, Arik’s Communication Officer was quoted in the statement saying the decision to resume the Lagos-Freetown route suspended since July 2014 was reached after the World Health Organization declared Sierra Leone and the other affected countries free of the virus.
Arik was among about seven airlines, which suspended flights to the country at the height of the Ebola epidemic. Arik, like Kenya Airways, which has since resumed its flights, was forced to stop its operation to the country under pressure from the Nigerian public.
This development comes weeks after the Transport Ministry announced the introducing a new London-Freetown flight FlySalone which is set to replace the reluctant British Airways, which also stopped its operation in 2014 due to Ebola.
British Airways has shown no indication that it intends to return.
Arik’s return will reduce the burden currently faced by travelers within the West African region who have been forced to go through North Africa just to travel to one part of the same sub region.
Direct flight between Freetown and Banjul in Gambia will be introduced for the first time in over a year.