16.07.2003 Feature Article

The Ghana Airways BMI Hybrid Deal

The Ghana Airways BMI Hybrid Deal
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Managers of Ghana Airways and BMI are negotiating a strategic deal aimed at providing Ghana with a new national airline to be called New Ghana Airways. Although the current ongoing deal remains shrouded in secrecy and propaganda as being the most effective and only solution to the ailing national airlines problems, it is clear several strategic considerations are being sidestepped to maintain a national airline. Even if this deal succeeds in keeping Ghana Airways operational the real litmus test would be an evaluation of a deal desperately orchestrated to keep the national airline from crash landing and its impact on Ghana’s aviation sector and economy at large. Ghana Airway remains one of the few operational airlines solely owned by an African government and the only Government owned airline in the West African Sub region. Recent developments indicate managers of Ghana airways are adamant to relinquish governments golden share of the airline as they desperately try to keep the airline airborne through other hybrids means. A Hercules task for Ghana; however if successful its outcome would be an important historical specimen and an interesting case study in Aviation as no African Airline has successful been diverted from turbulence and debt as astronomical as that of Ghana Airways, while evading privatization or liquidation. Although Ghana Airways is involved with British Midland a reputable aerospace company, the Ghana Airways BMI deal has obviously side step several important historical, economic and strategic considerations in a desperate move to keep Ghana’s national airline airborne. Whatever the out of the BMI Ghana airways deal if care is not taken it will ultimately lead to a give away of Ghana’s vital national resource base to foreign interest and control just to maintain a single unproductive airline venture whereas Ghanaians could enjoy services of other vibrant Ghanaian carriers if Ghana Airways is privatized, its monopoly broken, and left to the forces of the free market. Aviation analysts are most disturbed Ghana is seeking to place a 50 percent share of Ghana airways in the hands of foreign control when nations across the globe are desperately guarding against such influence and domination in times of global emerging aviation Cartel. Placing more than 49 percent of Ghana airways under BMI, Ghana may also be ignoring some important provisions of the bilateral air services agreement. Ghana needs to take serious caution because Ghana Airways was incorporated as a national airline with existing monopoly rights till date. It is envisaged this unhealthy monopoly will continue with Ghana Airways under BMI. There is no doubt the Ghana Airways monopoly has been the core center of attraction for BMI Manager of Ghana airways seem to have ignored historical predecessors like Air Afrique, Nigeria Airways, Zambia Airway, Kenya Airways and South African Airlines which had mounting debt and organizational problems like Ghana Airways. When Nigeria Airways and Air Afrique were at the cross roads of privatization or liquidation like Ghana Airways stands now, instead of privatizing other back roads were chosen, eventually landed these airlines belly up. Like Ghana intends to do rather than privatize both Air Afrique and Nigeria Airways sort hybrid solutions targeted to unmasked new companies. Air Afrique proposed its hybrid to unmask a new Airline through a bail-out from Air France to form Nouvelle Air Afrique. Before liquidation Managers of Nigeria Airways proposed a new national airlines from the offshoot of Nigeria Airways to be called Nigeria Global through Triton Airbus Group and later Air Nigeria through a deal with Airwing. As both companies tried to negotiate their way through the complex web-locks involved in such hybrid deals the sorry outcome was nothing but eventual collapse of these airlines. For Zambia airways although the Zambian government proposed to bail the airline through government subsidy the Zambian government eventually had to pull the plug on its airline when it came under pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Western aid donors threatened to suspend economic aid to the country in light of more pressing developmental needs, most especially when a good number of citizens lacked basic necessities such as food, water and shelter ; bailing this unproductive airline venture could not be justified at the time. Unlike Air Afrique, Nigeria Airways and Zambia Air, Kenya Airways and South Africa Airways have both become a showcase of African innovation and success; both airlines escaped liquidation and collapse. Airline mangers of both nations committed to the sure and only remedy: privatization. As a result of privatization Kenya Airways and South African Airlines remain successful flag carrier of their respective countries, while providing citizens with quality and dependable air service. As managers of Ghana Airways tow the Airline down the path of Nigeria Airways and Air Afrique the difference for Ghana Airways may be its success acquiring a new Operators Certificate and vested traffic rights under BMI as a designated national carrier. The real results of this tinted and experimental Ghana Airways deal yet to be fully uncovered could easily lead to the sorry shadow of Nigeria Airway, Air Afrique and Zambia Airways or for Ghanaians nothing more than a British carrier registered in Ghana providing Ghanaians high cost services, while enslaving Ghana’s young and vibrant aviation sector whereas Ghana Airways could be privatized on the model of Kenya airways with Ghanaians being major stake holders. Before Ghanaians fully endorse this important national deal it is imperative all national strategic considerations are taken into account else Ghana would once again be faced with predicaments such as those caused by the AFGO monopoly. Whether Ghana Airway succeeds or not it is important Ghanaians understand Ghana has vast untapped aviation potential which should not be placed under foreign control and monopoly. Asiwome O. Dzakuma Commercial pilot & Certified Flight instructor, CFII Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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