#Article (Archive)

More Competition Cheaper Means Prices

May 16, 2008, 7:19 AM

It is an interesting time for the Gambian transport industry. We have seen the arrival of a number of new airlines including Intercontinental and Cape Verde Air Transport. Sources also indicate that South African Airlines will also soon begin flights. This is exactly what we need in The Gambia. More competition will lead to lower prices for Gambians who wish to travel abroad. At the moment air travel to and from The Gambia is restricted to those who have a lot of money but this can become a thing of the past of the Civil Aviation Authority does its job to the fullest possible degree.

Mr. Aziz Willan, who chaired the briefing session held for journalists to announce the arrival of Intercontinental Airlines made some very telling remarks. He said, "As concerned Africans, improvement in the areas of air transport is one critical challenges requiring our concerted efforts in driving the investment and expansion of our respective economies."

The boost to the Gambian economy will be very large indeed if we continue to attract more and more airlines. If the number of airlines does increase it would be a wise move for the government to plan ahead and ensure that there are sufficient facilities at Banjul International Airport to cope with the increased traffic. It must also be ensured that there is always a sufficient supply of aviation fuel at the airport so that forced refuelling stops in Dakar become a thing of the past.

Along with cheaper air travel for Gambians there are other benefits to growth in this industry.

The Managing Director of Intercontinental, Captain Walter Okakpu, said at the recent press launch, "Initially we will be operating with foreign pilots while our pilots undergo training.  This is a unique opportunity for those who want to work hard to come and join us."

 This kind of high-end employment will be hugely beneficial to the nation as a whole so everything must be done to encourage it.

While we welcome the new airlines wholeheartedly the reality is that air travel from The Gambia may soon be difficult if not impossible as the deadline imposed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for countries to introduce electronic ticketing matures on May 31st.

By the end of this month aerial transport from Gambia to other destinations around the globe could be impossible as last we heard the country's aviation authority was yet to comply with the International Air Transport Association's regulation to introduce e-tickets.

We sincerely hope that the situation will be sorted out soon so we can begin to take advantage of the new wider range of cheaper services that will be available to us in the coming months and years.


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