December 18, 2018

Gov’t eyes aviation gateway…as Ghana signs deals with Canada et al

Government has signed various aviation-related deals with Canada, Seychelles, Jamaica, Namibia and Guyana as it seeks to open more air routes and create opportunities for investment, trade, and tourism.

This is also designed to position Ghana as the aviation hub of the West Africa sub-region and maximise the huge investment in on-ground aviation infrastructure.

The deals signed at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Air Services Negotiations event, held in the Kenyan Capital Nairobi, include initialling of a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Canada and Ghana.

The agreement, initialled on behalf of the government of Ghana by Deputy Aviation Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, liberalises commercial civil aviation services between the two countries, even as the initialled agreement is presented to Cabinet for approval and later to Parliament for ratification.

The deal allows designated airlines of the two states to operate commercial flights which cover the transport of passengers and cargo between that two countries. There is currently no direct flight between the two countries.

A similar deal was also signed with Seychelles, a country with historical and ancestral ties to the people of Ashanti. Passengers mostly have to connect a flight to Seychelles from Kenya or Ethiopia. Some also connect through Istanbul or Dubai. The travelling public, by the new arrangement, will soon be able to fly directly between the two countries.

Deals with Guyana, Jamaica

Two other deals have were also signed with South American country Guyana and the Caribbean nation of Jamaica.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Guyana, a country that has already initialled a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) with Ghana, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to deepen cooperation in civil aviation.

Guyana, though in South America, is often considered part of the Caribbean region because of its strong cultural, historical, and political ties with other Anglo-Caribbean countries and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Mr. Darko-Mensah, who led a 10-man team of aviation professionals drawn from the GCAA, Ghana Airports Company, and the Aviation Ministry, also signed a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) on behalf of Ghana with Jamaica.

With the signing of this agreement, passengers will soon be able to fly directly between Accra, Ghana, and Kingston, Jamaica.

Need for exploring new routes

With the huge investments in on-ground airport infrastructure by the Ghana Airports Company Limited, backed by government, there is a need to strategically position the country to attract more passengers—be it tourists, investors or transit passengers—in order to fully utilise these airport facilities.

Terminal 3 of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), built at a cost of about US$274million and used for international flight operations, has the capacity to handle about 5 million passengers a year. However, current passenger throughput is under 2 million. This requires a concerted effort to grow the passenger numbers so that GACL can generate enough aeronautical revenue, augment it with non-aeronautical ones and pay-off the loans contracted for the project.

The new terminal is easily the biggest and most modern of all airports in the country. It is equipped with six boarding bridges, a large commercial and retail area, three business lounges and purpose-built transit facilities. A lot of funds have also been spent on the Kumasi Airport.

The runway was totally resurfaced and a new plush terminal building is to be constructed. Wa and Ho airports are the other finished facilities that ought to be operated to generate revenue. With the sighing of various BASA agreements, it is expected that domestic airlines will partner some of the foreign ones, in the same manner the SAA and AWA have signed an interline agreement in order to feed out-bound international flights with domestic and regional traffic.

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