Gambia’s government has ordered airlines to stop carrying out flights to and from the capital of Gao after it said it would be impossible for the government to provide adequate security at its international airport.
The government said it is unable to guarantee the security of the airport because of security challenges caused by a terrorist attack, the attack of an air raid in the capital Gao on April 6 and a failed coup.
The airport has not been used by international airlines since the country’s previous military government took over in 2009, and the government has been unable to get new planes in the country since it was forced out of office by the army.
Gao’s airport, which has no regular passenger services, is a major transit hub for foreign tourists.
A security expert told Al Jazeera that the government’s decision to halt flights would make travel more difficult for tourists.
“The airlines will be forced to cancel their services because they can no longer travel to Gao,” he said.
The military coup on April 4 overthrew the government, who were led by President Yahya Jammeh.
Gaza’s airport is used by more than 2,000 airlines and the military and police have been carrying out operations at the airport since Jammehs removal.
The government has said it will use its international airports for commercial flights.
The country has one of the highest rates of fatalities at international airports in the world.
The death toll is higher than in the US, the UK and France.
The number of people killed at Gao airport in 2016 was just 10, according to the countrys official statistics agency.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation said in a statement that the Gao International Airport was at the “tip of a large iceberg” of unsafe infrastructure, particularly the lack of adequate security.
“This situation will worsen unless the Gambia Government and the International Civil Aircraft Organisation take immediate steps to improve the airport security,” the ICAO said.
In a statement, Gambia Airlines said it has made a number of recommendations to ensure the airport’s safety.
“We would like to point out that we have made a series of changes to our policies and procedures to ensure that the airport is secure and operational and to ensure passengers are safe and protected during the flight and landing operations,” the airline said.
Gulf News, the local newspaper, said on its website that Gao’s air transport industry, which is based in neighbouring countries, had not received any notice of the government action.
Gambia, a tiny country of 1.4 million people, has struggled with security issues since its military rulers came to power in 2009.
The Gambia National Guard was deployed to the airport after a failed military coup, and Jammehi fled to neighbouring Mauritania and Guinea.
Jammeh was accused of orchestrating the coup.
He has repeatedly denied the charges and has vowed to fight to remain in power.
He remains under house arrest, which makes him unable to leave the country.