National Airline to begin operations in 2 years
- April 10, 2017
The Minister for Aviation, Cecilia Abena Dapaah, has announced that the country is in a position to own a national carrier within two years.
The Minister for Aviation, told the Appointments Committee of Ghana’s Parliament (ACGP) that Ghana is ready to have its carrier to start operations within the ECOWAS sub-region and move on to regional before considering long-haul operations like flying to the USA and other destinations in the not too distant future.
The much-anticipated new national airline should have taken off in March 2015, but that did not materialize. Madam Dapaah told ACGP that findings from a feasibility study for a new national airline, will be assessed before a major decision is taken.
“I have sighted a document that can aid us to have our airline. I have talked to the Ministry, Ghana Airport Company, as well as the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority that feasibility studies have been done by the previous government. It was done by PricewaterhouseCoopers and I believe we will have a study of the findings and add up what we have received so far and take it from there.”
According to the Minister, the government is committed to ensuring that a national airline takes off within the shortest possible time. She further added that “I will cross my fingers, the consultant says two years and I said we should do it in a year if possible, so between 1 and two years that should be the period.”
Ethiopian Airlines has since 2016 made a strong case with the proposal to be allowed to partner Ghana in establishing a new sustainable national airline.
Girma Shiferaw, Vice President, Corporate Alliances of the Addis Ababa-based airline said: “We have heard that Ghana wants to establish an airline. Normally we prefer to be partners and to build the airline together not to own it. We like the concept of being a partner, not an owner. If the opportunity comes, we are ready to partner. As a principle, our door is open for collaboration with any African airline. It doesn’t matter if it is in East, West or North of the continent.”
The government of Ghana has been seeking an experienced airline operator as a strategic partner to establish a new national airline for the country, after the collapse of Ghana Airways and its successor the Ghana International Airlines (GIA) for different reasons.
The Ministry of Transport in 2016, in an Expression of Interest (EOI) published in the dailies, said: “The feasibility studies [for the establishment of a new national carrier] also demonstrated that the new national airline would require partnership with an experienced strategic airline partner that has a global distribution network to adequately take advantage of opportunities in the market place”.
The partner, the EOI notes, ought to have good financial strength; technical strength in areas of IT systems and flight operations; maintenance yield and capacity management; good distribution network; and be a member of a global alliance.
“It depends on the way you see or interpret partnership because we all have our areas of speciality. In partnership, we can always find a way that each partner will have a role to play in the market. Africa is very big, and I don’t think the continent’s business opportunity is full, and there is no room for growth and participation. We need more and more active participants in the airline business,” Mr Shiferaw said.
After the collapse of Ghana Airways, the former national flag-carrier, the government invited private participation in the establishment of a new national airline. In 2004 Ghana, International Airlines was established, with 70 percent shares held by GoG and 30 percent held by a US consortium GIA-USA. The airline went down in 2010 due to some issues.
The Transport Ministry has said the government is not going to commit funds but will only seek a carried interest in the proposed new airline. Some experts have however questioned this approach.
Other aviation analysts believe that the new airline should rather look inward and dominate the continent before venturing to other long-haul routes.
With 10 percent, annual growth in traffic during the past five years, government has been keen to create a national carrier to tap into the aviation sector’s potential. The interest also stems from the desire to create jobs, as the industry remains largely labor-intensive. A report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said 9,500 additional jobs could be created in the sector if government fully commits to liberalising the industry
Some industry players however think a national airline would be a waste of public resources, given the dismal failure of two previous state-owned carriers that collapsed under debt and mismanagement
Aviation mogul Alhaji Asuma Banda in 2013 threatened to sue the state in court if it goes ahead to create an airline. Alhaji Banda warned that the airline would likely see the same fate as those set up in the past
Ghana International Airlines (GIA), the last national carrier that was 70-percent owned by government, ceased operations in May 2010 amid financial challenges and a shareholder dispute
GIA’s predecessor, Ghana Airways, was once a respected regional and international carrier set up in 1958. Years of mismanagement influenced by nepotism and cronyism brought the airline to its knees, and it was finally liquidated in 2005.
VO TOA- “A goal with proper plan is just a wish. Work shrewdly in silence”.
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