Despite several renovation and rehabilitation works carried out on the Douala international airport to give it a facelift, the facility is still in a shambles, leaving several users fuming as they touch down in Douala.
The plights and complaints of passengers, more often than not overlooked, has now equally being felt and echoed by fifteen airliners who use the airport regularly.
The heads of 15 airliners, under the banner of the Airline Operators Committee (AOC) sent a strong worded letter to the General Manager as well as Chairman of the board of directors of the Douala airport expressing their frustration at the dilapidated nature of the facility.
In a leaked letter dated February 5, the members of the Airline Operators Committee (AOC) of Douala, expressed their bitterness at the sub standard nature of the airport and called for the urgent measures to be taken to enable them work at the airport in proper conditions.
The 15 signatories, namely Air France, Brussels Airlines, Turkish Airlines, RAM, Ethiopian Airlines, Asky, Karinou Airlines, Kenya Airways, South African Airways, Trans Air Congo, Rwandair, Air Côte d’Ivoire, Cronos, Ceiba and even the Cameroonian company Camair-Co, were very worried about the logistics notably the poor maintenance of computer equipment and track equipment (trolleys, container ships, etc.).
“Excluding parts of the passenger paths, the building is a repulsively dirty: old paintings, cracked walls, substandard toilets, dirty or no ceilings at all, abandoned rehabilitation works, tired frames, poor and inconsistent electrical connections…, ” the airliners said in the letter.
“A misunderstanding,” said the general manager of the airport Thomas Owona Assoumou , who has announced the imminent start of renovations.
According to the General Manager, there are works to be done but frowned at the criticisms from the airliners which he described as « harsh and excessive ».
“Following the inspection visit we made (February 22), the general operating condition of the Douala airport is not alarming. The problems posed by the airlines are operational problems, generally resolved at the operational level, through consultation meetings with our employees,” the General Manager said.
On Thursday, February 22, a « crisis meeting » was held between leaders of the airliners’ association and the General Manager Thomas Owona Assoumou as well as the Chairman of the Board of Directors Joseph Pokossy Doumbe.
« Some parts of the airport need to be renovated and rehabilitated, » the General Manager admitted to the airliners while assuring them the effective start of work in the nearest future thanks to funding from the French Development Agency.
In 2016, the French Development Agency granted a 46-million Euros loan to the Cameroon Airports Authority for the renovation of the facility.
The runway was renovated in March last year as part of the first phase of the renovation project but the renovation of the various terminals is still lagging behind. This is as a result of the slow process of the call to tender, according to sources at the airport. However, the works are expected to start at the latest in September and will run for two years, authorities at the port have reassured.