Monrovia — The management of Nigerian airline, Arik Air, has announced the temporary suspension of flights to all destinations in West Africa including Liberia as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement issued on Thursday, March 19, the management said its decision will take effect beginning Monday, March 23, 2020, adding that it is temporary and that the decision was reached following a "careful analysis" of the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The virus, which was firstly diagnosed in China, has been raging across the world including Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa and other continents.
Two cases of the coronavirus have already been confirmed in Liberia by health authorities, with dozens others suspected.
Arik Airline maintains that the safety and wellbeing of its personnel and value customers remain paramount during "this critical time".
The airline further apologized for the decision, but promised to ensure the refund of ticket fares paid by customers, who will be affected by the decision.
The latest suspension of flights by Arik Air brings to three the number of airlines that have suspended flights to Liberia as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, Belgian Airlines, SN Brussels, which travels to more than 80 destinations across the world, announced that beginning March 21, all scheduled flights will be suspended until 19 April, while flights schedule will be gradually decreased in the course of the week, to reach a temporary full suspension of the flights by this Saturday.
"Given the extraordinary circumstances caused by the worldwide Coronavirus crisis, Brussels Airlines has decided to temporarily suspend its flight operations from 21 March 2020. Between now and then, Brussels Airlines' flight operations will be reduced gradually in a controlled and structured manner in order to bring passengers and crews home" the airline indicated.
"The decision of Brussels Airlines to temporarily suspend all its flights between 21 March and 20 April has also been taken following the measures imposed by different authorities, such as the negative travel advice of the Belgian authorities, which Brussels Airlines fully understands, and the increasing number of national authorities in Europe and beyond who no longer allow flights to their territory".
A statement posted on the airline website quoted its CEO Dieter Vranckx as saying: "We have already started working on the restart of our operations, planned on 20 April. We will continuously monitor the situation and communicate accordingly, planning a restart of our operations on 20 April to welcome our guests on board again. As a responsible company, we need to take the decision to temporarily cease our operations. It will allow us to reduce the negative financial impact on our company".
According to the airline, the spread of the Coronavirus coupled with flight bans and other measures restricting air connectivity imposed by many countries around the world, have already severely and negatively impacted Brussels Airlines' flight schedules in the past few days, as well as its financial situation.
Also, on March 15, 2020, the Moroccan airline, Air Maroc, announced the indefinite suspension of all international flights.
The airline previously suspended flights to Algeria, France, Italy particularly Venice and Milan, among others.
"Pursuant to the decision of the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco, Royal Air Maroc announces the suspension, until further notice, of all its international flights," the airline announced.
"Royal Air Maroc invites its customers to inquire about the commercial arrangements put in place following this decision at the following numbers: