Lungi International Airport
|Lungi International Airport|
|IATA: FNA – ICAO: GFLL|
|Serves||Freetown and the entire Sierra Leone|
|Location||Lungi, Sierra Leone|
|Elevation AMSL||84 ft / 26 m|
Freetown International Airport (IATA: FNA, ICAO: GFLL) (officially), locally known as Lungi International Airport, is an international airport located in the coastal town of Lungi, Sierra Leone. It is the only international airport in Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone River separates Lungi International Airport from Freetown, the nation's capital city. The airport is operated by the Sierra Leone Airports Authority.
Prior to its use as a civilian airport, it was a British Royal Air Force base. In 2012 its management was contracted out to the British security and military company Westminster Aviation Security Services Ltd.
Due to the Lungi International Airport being surrounded by sea from the capital Freetown, passengers have the options of traveling from Lungi International Airport to Freetown through regular hours ferry, taxi speed boats and bus transportation. Most people who are traveling outside Freetown, and to other parts of Sierra Leone, use the highway trough public or private transportation.
The ferry is the cheapest, and the most common way of traveling from Lungi to Freetown for most Sierra Leoneans. The ferry takes about an hour journey on sea from Lungi to Freetown.
The privately run water taxi speed boats take about 25 to 30 minutes journey on sea from Lungi to Freetown; and the cost for a single passenger is usually equivalent to forty or forty-five US dollars. Sierra Leone's upper middle class and foreigner travelers generally use the water taxi speed boats.
Public and private transportation buses run from Lungi to Freetown, and to other parts of Sierra Leone. The highway road journey from Lungi to Freetown is generally three hours drive.
The terminal building of the airport composed of three distinct zones :a General Waiting Hall, a Departures Wing, and an Arrivals Wing. The General Waiting Hall provides ticketing desks for local transportation (coach, ferry, helicopter, hovercraft, and taxi), postal services, a travel agency office, and a restaurant. The Departures Wing contains duty-free shops, restaurants and lounges for business class passengers and VIPs. The Arrivals wing has a customs hall with a money exchange offices, a lost and found baggage office, and an information office. The airport grounds also contain two banks, a police center, various restaurants, two car parks, and a mosque.
The government of Sierra Leone undertook a general upgrade of the terminal in 2010, in order to meet the basic standards of current international airports. The departure hall was commissioned in February 2013. The arrival hall was commissioned in May 2014.
From September 2014, almost all regional and intercontinental flights to Freetown were suspended as a result of the 2014 West Africa Ebola virus outbreak. Brussels Airlines did maintain flights during this period. The first airline to resume commercial flights after suspending them was Air Cote d'Ivoire already in October 2014 while Air France announced to resume services by June 2015. British Airways chose not to resume flights to Sierra Leone. A national airline Fly Salone operated briefly at the start of 2016.
Airlines and destinations
|Air Côte d'Ivoire||Abidjan, Monrovia|
|Air France||Paris–Charles de Gaulle|
|Arik Air||Accra, Lagos|
|Kenya Airways||Accra, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta|
|Royal Air Maroc||Casablanca, Monrovia|
Because of the position of the airport on the northern coast of the Freetown estuary, passengers arriving by plane need to use boats to reach the capital. The most popular options are the water taxis followed by the government ferry and other options include speed boats. A road going around the estuary was upgraded in 2013 and allows passengers with cars to reach Freetown area in less than 3 hours. In the past, helicopters and a hovercraft (obtained from the Isle of Wight in the UK) operated between Lungi and Aberdeen in Freetown.
Accidents and incidents
- On August 11, 2004 at around 2:30 p.m. a Boeing 737 plane operated by Air Guinee Express crashed while failing to take off at Lungi Airport. There were no fatalities among the 127 passengers and crew members.
- On June 3, 2007, a helicopter flight from Freetown exploded and crashed on landing at Lungi airport, killing all 22 people on board. The helicopter, a Russian Mi-8, was operated by Paramount Airlines, which shuttled passengers between Sierra Leone's coastal capital Freetown and Lungi airport.
Main article: 2007 Paramount Airlines Mil Mi-8 crash
- Mieu, Baudelaire (17 October 2014). "Ivory Coast Airline to Resume Flights to Ebola-Affected Nations". Bloomberg.
- Concord Times, Freetown, August 17, 2004, "Crash Victim Tells Kabbah I Am Totally Disappointed in Your Government"
- "Helicopter crashes in Sierra Leone, 20 killed". Reuters. 3 June 2007.
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