The commercial air carrier Astraeus which has been operating twice weekly flights between London and Freetown has ceased operations.
Some five years after starting its operations here, Astraeus made its final flight into the country last Monday 28th April 2008.
The reasons for the move and the agreements reached have been held under wraps for sometime even though rumours had been doing the rounds in the airline industry.
Attempts to get the local agency Karl Travel to comment have proved futile. However sources within the airline industry have intimated that Kevin McPhilips who had been operating the twice weekly shuttle had sold out to the British owned British Midlands Airways (bmi).
Bmi changed its name from BMED last year when they were operating twice weekly flights to London through Dakar.
Now, having acquired Astraeus ‘bmi’ has increased its number of flights from two a week to four times a week and most importantly the flights will be direct.
The bmi flights would operate on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and will originate from London’s Heathrow airport.
Sources within the airline industry have further revealed that Kevin McPhilips entered into an agreement with bmi that would see the Kevin McPhillips travel agency in London or their local agent Karl Travel Agency at Rawdon Street in Freetown having a quota of a little over 50 seats for every flight which they can fill.
Bmi has also moved swiftly to increase the baggage allowance to an unprecedented 50kilos.
Astraeus came into prominence after the Sierra Leone National Airlines (SNA) could not meet its commitments to its numerous passengers, thus paving the way for its financial bankruptcy.
The inaugural four-weekly flights for ‘bmi’ takes off today Friday from Lungi.