New General Manager of Brussels Airlines, Estelle Van Ekout, has said that mutual support between the airlines and Sierra Leoneans over the past years is factual and self-speaking as both parties are special to each other.
Ms. Van Ekout, who was speaking on Monday night at a farewell cocktail organised by Brussels Airlines for outgoing General Manager Paul Delafaille at the Atlantic Lumley Hotel in Freetown, said over the last month they have met with several officials, including President Ernest Bai Koroma. "We have been very welcome and I realised the long standing good collaboration and how Brussels Airlines is supported especially by the Minister of Transport and Aviation," she said.
"I am arriving in a strong team who cares for our customers and for the company. A team who looks happy to come to work and when I work around in the agencies or speak to customers, the team is congratulated for its availability and helpfulness. This is what makes a difference in an environment that is more and more competitive," she added.
She said she was glad that her new position accords her an opportunity to personally support and promote Sierra Leone and bring her small turbine to the development of such a diverse and beautiful country because the country is special to her and her family.
"The country has been through difficult times and yet the people are joyful and welcoming. I have hope that Sierra Leoneans have resilience toward their past and ambition to build their future with energy, integrity and peace," she noted.
She thanked the outgone General Manager, Paul Delafaille, on behalf of the company and management, for his persistence during difficult times and the friendly and positive image of the company he helped promote in Sierra Leone.
Sales Manager Abdul K. Kargbo said the outgone General Manager was transferred to Sierra Leone at a time when the Ebola viral disease was causing problems in the country.
"At the difficult period when all the flights ceased to come to Sierra Leone, Brussels Airlines increased their flights from two to four a week. We are happy to have, for the very first time, a woman as General Manager of Brussels Airlines," he said.
He assured customers that with Brussels Airlines it would always be business as usual as they will continue to maintain standards.
Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma, said the new General Manager, Estelle Van Ekout, was coming to head Brussels Airlines at a time when President Koroma is putting premium on women.
"Brussels Airlines tops in the areas of reliability, credibility and trustworthiness. Only Brussels Airlines and Air Moroc were with us during the Ebola period after other flights stopped coming to Sierra Leone. They are reliable partners and I want to assure them of government's continued support," he assured.
He revealed four airlines have started flying into the country in the last couple of months and there are more to come, adding that because of competition, Sierra Leoneans are expecting reasonable airfares and services.
Outgone General Manager Paul Delafaille said he would never forget the reception and hospitality he had received in Sierra Leone.
"I have travelled in many countries of the world but I have never received such good farewell cocktail like this. I wish you all a brighter future," he said.
One of the agents of Brussels Airlines, Khalil Lakiss of Karl Travel Agency, said Brussels Airlines was in Sierra Leone during the war, Ebola, flooding and mudslide crisis in Sierra Leone.
"Outgone General Manager Paul Delafaille and team provided excellent and supportive services to both travelling agencies and public," he said.