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14.05.2009 Business & Finance

GIA still flying London-Accra route -CEO

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The Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana International Airline, Mrs. Gifty E. Annan-Myers, has debunked rumours circulating in London that the airline is no longer flying, a situation which has created a massive problem for the airline, in terms of patronage on its London-Accra route.

According to the Acting CEO, figures relating to passengers from London to Accra on GIA flights for last April were the worst in the last two years. Addressing a press conference in London, the Chief Executive noted that the problem had come about as the results of “mischievous rumours” being peddled by some unscrupulous elements in the travel and tours business in London.

She said over the past weeks, there have been rumours around London that the airline was not flying, and debunked the said rumours, saying, “Ghana International Airline is flying, and will continue to fly.”

Mrs. Annan-Myers noted that the rumours had gained undue grounds, and had indeed affected the smooth operations of the airline in recent times.

She blamed some travel and tour operators, who have been acting as agents over the years for the airline, and were no longer working with them, for the rumours, as a desperate attempt to thwart the efforts of the airline's operations.

The Chief Executive explained that sometime last year, the airline went into a more modern and efficient system of ticketing, which required only a certain category of travel agents, who had adequate facilities and knowledge to work with the airline.

Due to this, she observed, many of the agents were not able to meet the set requirement, while others cheated on the GIA with the loopholes in the new facility.

“All these were dropped, and they have turned against our operations with these mischievous rumours. Those who are not working with us, at the moment, are suspected to be peddling these mischievous rumours,” She added.

She appealed to the general public, especially their cherished customers, to ignore the rumours and contact the offices of the GIA, or its accredited agents in London and other parts of Europe, for correct information about the airline.

The GIA CEO announced that there was going to be a much more improvement in the operations of the airline, when certain measures the government is working on, are made known.

She said the government would soon come out with a business module for the airline, to ensure its effective operations. With this, the national carrier can favourably compete with other international airlines, especially those on the same route with the GIA.

The business module to be outlined by the government, according to the Acting Chief Executive, would solely be the government's decision, which among other things will look at either retaining all its 70 per cent shares in the airline, or offload some for a private strategic investor. “It is entirely up to the government,” she said.

Mrs. Annan-Myers said one of the most important factors, which could lead to dry leasing of an aircraft for the airline, had been overcome, and that was the withdrawal of a monthly payment of $1.5 million towards the work lease of an aircraft for GIA.

This, she said, would facilitate the dry leasing of an aircraft for the airline, which will be a major step towards the revamping of the airline.

According to her, there was the need for a bold decision to stop paying the amount monthly as a work lease, and rather ensure the outright purchase of an aircraft and spend less money on it, to ensure efficiency and good profits, adding that that payment of $1.5 million went on for far too long.

“Currently, we have developed our own crew, that is pilots and cabin crews who are all Ghanaians, so we have moved ahead and getting ready to go into a more improved form of leasing in airline operations,” the Acting Chief Executive said.

She further announced that the government was also working hard to eliminate the dispute between it and the minority shareholder, to facilitate improvement in the airline's operations.

“This also is a laudable stride, because nothing has happened at all, positively due to the dispute, and it is obvious that no one will want to work with an airline with a dispute hanging on its neck,” she noted.

The Acting Chief Executive noted that there were three stages in the agreement to work out the disputes, which are settlement, mediation, and arbitration. The government, since taking office in January, has met with the other party three times, to find a solution to the impasse.

The Acting Chief Executive noted that plying the London route was just prestigious and cosmetic, because the yield from this route was not profitable, and that was why the airline introduced the Düsseldorf route, which is more profitable.

She said the airline was still considering operating on the West Coast routes, which are more viable, and also has an enviable future prospect. Mrs. Annan-Myers did not agree that landing at Gatwick Airport in London was affecting the airline's income.

She however said after the government had come out with the business module, GIA would work to get a slot at Heathrow Airport, saying the current available slot at Heathrow was not conducive for our passengers.

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