The Once Prestigious Ghana Airways, Will It Ever Be Re-established?

Feature Article The Once Prestigious Ghana Airways, Will It Ever Be Re-established?
MAY 29, 2023 LISTEN

Leaders put in a lot of effort to accomplish great things, but other leaders, who lack management skills, ruin all of their hard work. Ghana formerly had its airplane fleet that proudly represented the country as "Ghana Airways," but just like Ghana's fleet of ships known as the "Black Star Line," Ghana Airways has now vanished. How can such a prominent airline that served the nation with pride on both local and foreign flights vanish in such a dramatic manner?

Ghana's government established Ghana Airways on July 4, 1958, with £400,000 in initial funding. The government owned 60% of the company, with British Overseas Airways Corporation, owning the remaining 40%. When the business was established, BOAC and the airline negotiated a seven-year arrangement under which BOAC employees were sent to Accra, while Ghanaian employees were trained to take over the management and operation of the airline.


The once prominent airline, known as Ghana Airways, who might be a truly effective Ghanaian leader to revive those wonderful memories of pretty air ladies waiting to greet passengers with "Akwaaba-Welcome"?

Until the establishment of the business, pool services from West Africa to London were run by BOAC and West African Airways Corporation as part of the international flights from Ghana. When BOAC began flying the Accra-London route on July 16, 1958, using a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, Ghana Airways joined the pool services for their maiden flights. The aircraft was flown under the Ghanaian flag and was dressed in a livery that was only slightly modified from that of the UK carrier.

On September 30, the airline's partnership with West African Airways came to an end and on October 1, the airline started running the domestic and regional routes that WAAC had previously provided. De Havilland Heron, which was delivered on December 30, was the airline's first aircraft and, as a result, the first aircraft to be registered in Ghana since the country's independence. A second Heron was supplied to the airline in 1959, and the first Douglas DC-3 entered service on March 9. By the end of the company's first year of operation, it had achieved a net profit of US$28,000.

By the end of 1959, a service to Conakry was started and on April 20, 1960, an order for three Vickers Viscounts was placed, as a result of accusations that the Ghanaian President, Kwame Nkrumah, was too closely associated with the West, prompting to make deals with the Soviet Union, and on August 18th, six Ilyushin Il-18s, each costing £670,000, were ordered. Following delivery, the Soviets operated the aircraft as the initial crew, while Ghanaian personnel underwent training.

The plane was put into service for flights from Accra to Lagos and Dakar, Addis Abeba through Kano, and Nairobi via Léopoldville. The overall net income for 1960 was $462,000. Additionally, the USSR provided Ghana Airways with a single Antonov An-12 in November 1960. On February 4th, 1961, a weekly Britannia flight from London to Beirut via Kano and Cairo was launched, making Ghana Airways the first West African airline to fly to the Lebanese capital and observed that the airline has additional plans to start flying to Tokyo and Sydney as well as services to the US beginning in July 1962.

According to reports from January 1961, the Nkrumah administration wanted to limit foreign influence in Ghanaian affairs and viewed Ghana Airways as a key symbol of Ghana's statehood. As a result, on February 14 of that year, the Ghanaian government and BOAC agreed that the former would buy the latter out of their 40% stake in the airline for an estimated £160,000, and on June 1, 1961, Ghana Airways began operating the first nonstop flight between Accra and London.

In July the government announced that the airline would be reorganized and the order for two Boeing 707s was canceled in August due to difficulties in financing the purchase, and in 1961 the airline lost US$800,000. However, Ghana Airways took delivery of the three Viscounts and an additional two Il-18s in 1962, for a total of eight Ilyushins, and on July 2, 1962, a weekly flight from Accra to Kumasi, Tamale, Ouagadougou, Mopti, Ségou, and Bamako, was inaugurated, utilizing a Douglas DC-3.

To cover flights between Accra and Rome, Ghana Airways and Alitalia formed a pool agreement. By this time, regional flights were also being run from Accra to Abidjan, Bamako, Bathurst, now Banjul, Conakry, Dakar, Freetown, Lagos, and Monrovia. The airline was also conducting internal flights from Accra to Kumasi, Takoradi, and Tamale. The airline flew to Addis Ababa, Beirut, Cairo, Khartoum, London, Rabat, Rome, and Zürich as part of its global route network.

Additionally, the airline began a pooling arrangement with Nigeria Airways, under which Nigeria Airways used Ghana Airways Viscounts on their Lagos-Accra route and Ghana Airways used Nigerian Fokker F27s on domestic routes. 1975 saw the delivery of the first McDonnell Douglas DC-9s, and in 1976 the airline included Lagos as a stopover on its route from Accra to Cotonou. The airline ordered a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 that same year, and while waiting for it to arrive, it leased a DC-10 from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

On February 24, 1983, the airline received its DC-10, and the Dutch carrier's leased aircraft was returned. At this point, the airline had expanded its network of routes to include new overseas destinations like Amsterdam, Douala, Frankfurt, Jeddah, Libreville, and Niamey. Due to a wet-lease agreement that was renewed in January 1986, the airline's DC-10 made trips to the West Indies on behalf of Caribbean Airways. During these trips, the DC-10 flew twice-weekly flights from London's Gatwick Airport to Barbados.

In September 1994, the airline started operating twice-weekly flights using DC-10s it had leased from Skyjet to JFK International Airport in New York City. Düsseldorf and Harare were also included in the airline's route network at this time.

However, following Ghana's receipt of Category One status from the US Federal Aviation Administration, Ghana Airways was able to operate flights to New York City from mid-October 1996 utilizing Ghanaian-registered DC-10s. On March 25, 1999, the airline and South African Airways signed a cooperation agreement. As a result, the two airlines would offer more services between West and East Africa and the United States as well as nearly daily flights between Johannesburg and Accra.

Towards the demise of Ghana Airways

Poor management frequently causes so many issues and challenges for travelers. It was not always easy to conduct operations in Banjul. After being stranded by the airline in January 2002, a group of irate passengers, headed to Baltimore threatened to set fire to the carrier's DC-10 and offices at Banjul International Airport. Employees of the airline notified the passengers that their aircraft on January 13 was scheduled to arrive in Banjul at 10:00 am.

However, they learned that their plane had arrived at the airport at 3 a.m. and had already departed for the United States when they got there. The passengers claimed that Ghana Airways had flown a full aircraft into Banjul before departing for Baltimore. An employee at the airport stated that a similar situation happened on January 6 when the airline left 40 passengers stranded after the flight reached Banjul earlier than expected.

In June 2002, one of the airline's DC-10s was impounded at Heathrow Airport after the airline's British creditor obtained a court order to recover about £4 million in unpaid debts. Sam Jonah, the airline's then-chairman, said after the seizure that Ghana Airways was over US$160 million in debt and would need a foreign partner to survive. He added that the company had to pay the British creditor $1 million before the plane was freed.

In September 2002, the Ghanaian government revealed that it had reached an agreement with Nationwide Airlines under which the South African carrier would assume control of the airline, which would have been renamed Ghana Nationwide International Airlines. As part of the agreement, Nationwide, which defeated rival British Midland, would not assume responsibility for the national airline's obligations. The government withdrew from the agreement with Nationwide Airlines, according to an announcement made by Minister of Roads and Transportation Richard Anane in February 2003.

The United States Department of Transportation banned the airline from operating flights into or out of the country in July 2004 while investigations into the airline's alleged disregard for orders to ground unsafe aircraft and use of an expired license were ongoing. Two weekly flights to JFK International Airport and two weekly flights to Baltimore-Washington International Airport had to be canceled as a result of the airline. The airline used an aircraft that the Federal Aviation Administration had instructed to be grounded on flights to New York City and Baltimore, according to the USDOT official.

Conclusion and viewpoint of the author regarding this article

If Ghana Airways had been run effectively by efficient and competent personnel, it would have continued to be the best and friendliest airline for both domestic and international routes. The biggest obstacle facing Black people has been managing their affairs, enterprises, development, and even political difficulties. In terms of corruption, Ghana Airways experienced the same problem that many African countries do today, which ultimately contributed to its downfall.

If we want to build a better country, each of us as individuals must think rationally. People who engage in poor management and pervasive corruption should consider the harm they inflict on others out of greed because these activities are the seeds that sprout to make people suffer, particularly children and the next generation. It's also conceivable that the governments of the West and the United States contributed to Ghana Airways' downfall and current nonexistence.

Foreign governments act as if they care about Africa, but in reality, they contribute to the economic instability of African nations and companies because they hate competition and seek to dominate everything for their interests. For example, African travelers now have no choice but to purchase the expensive plane tickets offered by the West and America since "Afriqiyah," one of the best and most affordable airlines, which was owned by Libya was destroyed, after the overthrow of Qadaffi.

Ghana has no problems because it is one of the nations with the most abundant mineral resources in Africa if not the entire world. The only way to improve the situation in the country and ensure that all the factories, industries, and businesses, including Ghana Airways, started by Kwame Nkrumah, are restored, is for the nation to have an efficient leader who is willing to put those implicated in corruption in prison. I am grateful for the information found on "Wikipedia," which assisted me to write this article.