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Gov’t prepares to outdoor national airline with global resumption of air operations

Minister of Aviation Joseph Kofi Adda has said that government is aggressively working to ensure the country’s new national airline commences concurrently with the global resumption of air operations.

According to him, even though the partial closure of borders worldwide has come at a great loss to players in the sector, the country has a rare opportunity to tap some good fortune by ensuring it becomes a significant player in the aviation space.

He explained that reviving the national airline will also lead to the realisation of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufu-Addo’s dream of making Ghana an aviation hub. “I am still confident that we can do this by the end of 2020. We believe strongly that if we get it done properly, we should be able to be part of the global aviation revival,” Mr. Adda told the B&FT in an interview.

He said the ministry has identified some partners who are ready to support the initiative with private funds, but government is yet to screen the numbers and choose one of them to be the strategic partner for establishing the national airline. “We are still doing all the work we have to do. We have got a number of proposals with funds offered. They are going through the final stages; we slowed down due to COVID-19 but it will happen. We will take the final submissions to Cabinet and hear what they have to say.”

Some aviation analysts have predicted that the resumption of a buoyant aviation sector as per pre COVID-19 levels will happen – but it would slow and long. This means that players in the sector will have to be resilient and put in strategic efforts to re-capture the market, or lose their relevance to new entrants which may come with huge capital and brilliant innovations to fight the pandemic.

Aviation has and continues to suffer the catastrophic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. About 40 major airlines have grounded their entire fleets, and many more airlines have suspended over 90 percent of their flights. International flights have been hit hardest, due to the widespread border and entry restrictions around the world.

In Ghana, the closure has come at significant costs to all operators in the sector. Revenues have dropped for airlines, services providers and other stakeholders such as the Airports Company and the industry’s regulator – to the extent that punitive cost-cutting measures have been introduced to survive.

Sources in the sector have told the B&FT that if air-space is not opened to international commercial flights soon, the two major agencies – Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) – will need a bailout from government to survive the third and fourth quarters of the year.

These are part of the reasons why government wants to do all in its power to ensure the nation enjoys what some have described as the ‘third golden age’ of the sector. But the economic challenges this country is facing makes some expert doubt if the national airline will make its way into government’s yet to be announced revised budget. Also, these experts are sceptical about government’s readiness to cough-up some millions of cedis in support of the strategic partner to finally flag the nation in the air.

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