Government’s dream to revive the defunct Ghana airways by December 2019 is in limbo as most of the prime routes have been offloaded to the South African Airways.
The last aircraft of Ghana Airways, a 276 seater capacity plane purchased from the US, had been converted into a ‘chop bar’ (La Tante DC 10 restaurant), situated right opposite the Marina Shopping Mall at the airport City in Accra.
The La Tante DC 10 restaurant is fully air-conditioned with a unique ambience and a seating capacity of 118.
The chairs and tables have been redesigned to meet high operational standards with separate washrooms for male and females customers.
It is also sad to note that the office complex of the defunct national carrier situated at the Airport city (Behind Western Premier Hotel) had also been abandoned for many years and has now become a breeding place for lizards and rodents.
Some time ago, the former Minister of Transport under the NDC Government offloaded one of the most prime routes of the national carrier namely Accra-Washington-Accra, to South African Airways.
This gave the airline the privilege to commence s non-stop flight between Washington DC Dulles International Airport and Accra International Airport.
Recently the NPP government had also announced its decision to offload the Accra-London-Accra route to the same South African Airways.
The Aviation Minister, Cecilia Abena Dapaah said “we are looking at talking to South African Airways if they could take up the London route as well. So we are still waiting and talking to one or two airlines to make sure we bring this to fruition”. She disclosed this when the South African High Commissioner to Ghana paid a courtesy call.
On her part, the South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Lulu Xingwana, welcomed the idea with hopes of it performing well just like the Ghana Washington route.
“We are doing very well with the Washington route. It is the most successful route throughout in terms of the SAA” Xinguana said.
She disclosed that currently there is a healthy relationship between the airport company of South Africa and GACL as well as SAA.
In some few weeks, the CEO of SAA is expected to be visiting Ghana for an aviation conference. This is according to Lulu Xingwana will present a fine opportunity for further discussions on collaborations between both countries in the aviation sector.
The country has been without a national airline since 2010 when Ghana International airlines ceased operation due to high indebtedness.
In 2004 Ghana International airlines was established with the Government owning 70% stake while a US consortium GIA-USA had 30 percent. This, however, did not stand the test of time as it collapsed after barely six years of operation.
The airline eventually folded up in 2010 over various issues including lack of funds and debts.
Last year, the Minister for Aviation hinted that Ghana would have its own national airline within the next two years (2019).
Ms Dapaah told parliament’s appointment committee that she was convinced the country is ready for a new national airline that will begin its operations within the ECOWAS sub-region.
“I’ve sighted documents that can aid us to have our own airlines. I have talked to the Ghana airports company limited as well as the Ghana Civil aviation authority.
Feasibility studies have been done by the previous government, and I believe we will have a study of the findings and add up what we have received so far and take it up from there.”
The aviation Minister told the committee that she was committed to ensuring that the national airline becomes operational, lamenting that the foreign airlines have taken advantage of the ripe aviation industry and we are making much profit.
“The consultants said two years, and I said we should do it in a year if possible, so between one and two years, I think that should be the period,” She said when answering a question on when the airline will commence operation.
Some players in the aviation industry have called for Ghana to launch a national airline to deepen the country’s participation in the aviation industry following the collapse of the Ghana International airlines.
Successive governments have been working to revive the national airline, but their plans are yet to materialise.
Joyce Bawa-Mogtari, the deputy Transport Minister under the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government in 2015, gave assurances that the country’s new national airline will be in operation from March 2015, but that target was also missed for undisclosed reasons.