Air Transport World

Sierra Leone Airlines gets a helping hand from Alia.

Freetown--What is Alia doing in Sierra Leone? This is a legitimate question since for most people there seems to be no logical reason for the Royal Jordanian Airline (as Alia is officially called) to have a team of executives running a West African airline. But a close look at the history of Sierra Leone and of its air transport industry helps to explain why Alia has been managing Sierra Leone Airlines since 1982.

Settlers from the Middle East were active in trading and in business life in Sierra Leone long before the nation gained independence in 1961 (after having been under British rule since the early part of the 18th century). In recent years Sierra Leone citizens with Middle East backgrounds have increasingly dominated the nation's economy.

It was reportedly the Sierra Leone citizens with Middle East backgrounds who played a part in recommending to the government that Alia should replace British Caledonian Airways as the foreign carrier to run the Sierra Leone air transport industry. BCAL and its predecessor company British United Airways had in fact been entrusted with the management of the original national carrier, Sierra Leone Airways, since 1961 (for its first three years of existence, from 1958 to 1961, it was managed by Nigeria Airways). …

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