Ebola concerns ground Air France flights to Sierra Leone

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Air France has suspended flights to Sierra Leone's capital following the French government's publicly aired warning about the Ebola virus.

The flag carrier had maintained its operations to Freetown throughout the worsening health crisis in West Africa, insisting that airport screening procedures were adequate to protect both passengers and crew.

But it bowed to government pressure on 27 August after the cabinet warned that citizens should avoid all non-essential travel to Sierra Leone.

Daily flights to Guinean capital Conakry and Lagos in Nigeria are unaffected, despite both countries also recording Ebola cases.

"Taking into account the analysis of the situation and recommendations made by the French authorities, Air France is temporarily suspending flights to Freetown in Sierra Leone from Thursday 28 August," says the airline.

"Air France highlights the fact that the recommendation made by the French authorities is unrelated to the safety of the air connection it operates between Freetown and Paris [which] has not been called into question."

An online petition drafted by Air France union SNGAF had also called on the flag carrier to stop serving countries affected by the Ebola outbreak, saying that cabin and flight crew felt vulnerable.

However, IATA and the World Health Organization are urging governments not to ground international flights in response to the crisis.