By Kemo Cham……..
Air travellers to Sierra Leone can now browse the internet while in transit at the Lungi International Airport.
The Freetown International Airport (FNA) launched the high speed Wi-Fi service on Friday, with officials saying the move was in line with modern management standards.
Transport and Aviation minister Leonard Balogun Koroma presided over the launching ceremony.
He said the Wi-Fi service was also part of the government’s ongoing effort to get the airport meet international standards.
“You don’t know how important Wi-Fi is until you have a 12 hour waiting for a connecting flight,” the minister said.
The occasion also marked the launching of a quarterly newsletter published by the airport authority.
Officials say the development was part of the expansion and rehabilitation at the West African country’s only international airport, which was battling stiff competition.
The expansion commenced as early as 2014, shortly before the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic.
A major facelift
With about $500m spent so far, the airport has received a major facelift to its runway and power transmission infrastructure.
A new terminal was also built, replacing the previous colonial era building.
Airport General Manager Idriss Nabi Fofana said the goal was to enhance passenger comfort while seeking to maximise revenue for the facility which was still recovering from the effect of Ebola.
Seven out of nine airlines that flew to Lungi before the epidemic, ceased their services.
So far, only six airlines were operating in Sierra Leone.
Provision of a Wi-Fi service was the result of a perception survey among passengers who complained of difficulties they faced with internet access at the airport.
Many people lamented wanting to print their tickets, only to realise that there was no internet.
Last year, the Lungi airport received about 240,000 passengers, up from 90,000 and a little over 100,000 in 2014 and 2015 respectively.