14.10.2003 Feature Article

EDITORIAL: Saving Ghana Airways

EDITORIAL: Saving Ghana Airways
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In the winter of 1958, a black pilot taxied his Dacota aircraft to a stop at Heathrow Airport in London to tumultuous welcome from British ground crew and unbelieving onlookers. Captain Agyare's feat put Ghana's name in aviation history.

It was the first time a black person had ever piloted an aircraft to Britain. The aircraft also belonged to Ghana Airways, the first national airline recorded in Black Africa.

For more than 40 years since Agyare's maiden flight, Ghana Airways has always been a regular feature at Heathrow, the leading international airport in the world. Sadly, Ghana Airways is facing liquidation at a time a number of African nations are revamping their airline industry.

The sight that greet Ghana Airways passengers who have to heckle their way unsuccessfully for flights to Europe and America tells no story than that the ailing airline is on the brink. By the last count, Ghana Airways had only one air worthy aircraft.

The airline owes so much that every property in the name of the airline is mortgaged to creditors. Revenue from ticket sales also goes to service debts. In effect, the only thing that is not mortgaged at Ghana Airways is the staff.

Against this background, it is not in the interest of anybody for authorities to allow Ghana Airways to drift along until the last aircraft breaks down. Something ought to be done and quickly too.

Public Agenda believes the time has come for the Government to decide on what to do with Ghana Airways. We are reluctantly coming to the conclusion that Ghana Airways needs a partner to be able to survive in the turbulent world of the aviation industry.

One of the ironies of Ghana Airways is that while the airline itself is tottering, stories of workers allegedly owning property by their mere attachment to Ghana Airways, is gaining currency. It is not by co-incidence that the airline is collapsing while some members of staff are climbing up the ladder of success.

We would like to urge the government to institute a public enquiry into the entire operations of Ghana Airways so that all those who have managed the airline over the years can account for their stewardship after which a level-playing field could be acquired for the airline to go into partnership with any airline of repute to resuscitate its fortunes.

The airline is so much in debt that we do not believe any amount sunk into its operations will save Ghana Airways. Sentiments have to give way to reality. Ghana Airways needs a redeemer. We do not believe the Government alone can bear the burden.

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