Few years ago, if anyone had sought opinions on the Roberts International Airport (RIA) readiness to attract the world's leading aircrafts, they would have gotten a frosty respond. The airport was in shambles; and with a bumpy runway and an uninviting cargo handling facility, bigger aircrafts opted to avoid the headache of flying to Liberia.
But the tale is fast changing; the airport has got a modern terminal which will be completed anytime May 2019. The two-level building with a floor area of 5,000m is capable of handling approximately 320,000 passengers a year.
Of course, this will require a brand new cargo terminal to address passengers demand. And so, The Global Logistics Services Inc. (GLS) and National Aviation Services (NAS) joint venture company GLS-NAS has broken ground to construct a state of the art 2,700 sqm cargo terminal.
Dubbed the Roberts Air Cargo Center (RACC), the new facility which is valued at US$11m is expected to not only improve the airport's air cargo operations to meet international standards but also help to support export supply capacity in Liberia.
The Facility's size, GLS-NAS Chairman Peter Malcolm King said in his summery is currently fulfilling a 14 year forecasted baseline demand and can be further expanded up to 3,553 sqm.
King said the facility which is the first of its kind in Liberia providing the much needed infrastructure to enhance air cargo supply chain operations, improve trade barriers and boost Liberia's potential as a hub in the Mano River Subregion will be completed April 2020.
According to Axel Coulibaly General Manager of GLS-NAS the new terminal warehouse will amongst others, offer diverse solutions for a variety of industries dealing with perishables, fresh produce, livestock, pharmaceuticals and temperature sensitive cargo. All of which will serve to attract more cargo airlines at the airport while focusing on safety and security.
He said the new state of the art warehouse will have extended racking for storage, temperature controlled cold storage, walk in freezers, dangerous goods storage, a vault, mail area and five loading docks that can be extended up to eight amongst others. And with a dedicated area for customs inspections and other government agencies along with a separate freighter stand which will also be developed by the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA) to accommodate freighter parking for larger aircrafts such as the Boeing 777F.
Part of a 25 year air cargo operations concession awarded to GLS by the government of Liberia, GLS-NAS is tasked with the design, finance, build, maintenance, operation and transfer of this new modern cargo facility at the RIA.
NAS has presence in more than 35 airports across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, providing ground handling services to seven of the world's top ten airlines, has an average on time performance of 98 percent across its operations and has demonstrated expertise in supporting local hub carriers in these countries. NAS also manages 35 airport lounges and offers an expanded portfolio of aviation services that include innovative technology solutions.