Liberia revives national carrier with one aircraft

MONROVIA, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Liberia’s President George Weah relaunched the West African country’s national carrier on Friday with a single aircraft, thirty years after the collapse of the previous national airline.

Weah said the new carrier - called Lone Star Air - was aimed at confirming Liberia was open for business, after the country gradually emerged from the 1989 to 2003 civil war that destroyed much of its infrastructure.

The relaunch comes at a time when national airlines in the region are struggling with heavy debt, tough competition from international carriers, and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic that has brought tourism to a near standstill.

The African Union said in July that countries in the continent lost almost $55 billion in travel and tourism revenues in the first three months of the pandemic, and that some airlines would not survive the outbreak.

“Just because COVID is around does not mean we should put our developmental goals ...on hold,” Eugene Fahghon, Liberia’s deputy information minister, told Reuters on the sidelines of the launch ceremony in Monrovia.

He said that the airline will focus on connecting the West Africa sub-region, flying to 11 destinations. (Reporting by Alphonso Toweh; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Toby Chopra)