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06.05.2004 General News

Saga of Ghanair's Excess Baggage Scam

By Chronicle
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Baggage Fraud Tactics Exposed As light-fingered Ghanair staff make $500-$4,000 a day BNI & National Security's 2nd silence In its continuing searchlight on Ghana Airways, The Chronicle can today report that one day in mid-January, 2003, operatives of National Security and the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) discovered that the excess baggage fraudsters of Ghana Airways had adopted new tactics to outwit the security agencies and milk the airline of more money.

The paper's intelligence information has revealed that the security operatives who were closing in on the fraudulent staff abandoned the investigations after writing their reports because of alleged lack of encouragement from their superiors to continue or to arrest the culprits at the point of the crime.

Two separate security reports have confirmed that on that fateful day, Ghana Airways staff at the check-in counter and their collaborators at Ethiopia Airways worked to defraud Ghana Airways and deprive the airline of the proceeds of excess baggage. The two airlines were checking-in at the same time on that day.

According to the security reports, all the heavy baggage which were going on the Ghana Airways flight to London-Heathrow were systematically diverted through the Ethiopia Airways counter without being weighed and as the baggage got to the rear of the Ethiopia Airways counter, they were tagged with Ghana Airways LHR.

According to the reports this meant that, "if the amount to be paid for the excess baggage into Ghana Airways coffers is $10,000, they will take $8,000 and share it among themselves."

Quantifying the volume of loss to Ghana Airways, the reports said about 25 extra large size suitcases, each weighing not less than 50 kilograms were involved.

Ghanair's charge on every kilo of excess baggage was £10 (Ten Pounds Sterling), "therefore simple mathematics can show the amount of baggage and excess baggage cash that is going into individual pockets instead of the struggling Ghana Airways."

Aside of this, the report disclosed that other illegal activities of Ghana Airways personnel thing at the departure hall earned each staff between $500 and $4,000 a day.

The reports also pointed to a whole range of other dubious occurrences at Airport that deprived institutions such as Civil Aviation, Customs Exercise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and Immigration Service of revenue, which went into private pockets adding that those involved could not be apprehended because "we have been instructed not to arrest them."

A senior security source told The Chronicle last week that some of the security operatives had confided in him that they had been told to leave those involved and that the "long arm of the law would grip them one day."

The Security Coordinator in charge of the airport, Group Captain Nkansah told The Chronicle recently that at the time these incidents occurred, it was wasn't of priority to the National Security who were more concerned about curbing the daily armed robbery of passengers and returnees at the airport.

Last Monday The Chronicle reported that a Ghana Airways staff caught by BNI and National Security operatives for allegedly diverting excess baggage cash two years ago had been let off the hook without receiving a single query.

The National Security Coordinator said at that time they expected Ghana airways to take up the issue since the incident happened in their presence.

It is recalled, that The Chronicle carried a story in which Ghana Airways was reported to have lost a whooping $100,000 as a result of excess baggage fraud on a recent Accra-Baltimore flight.

After check-in was closed, the manifest indicated that the weight of baggage on that flight was 6.76 tonnes.

However, the load sheet showed that the total amount of baggage on board that flight was 16 tonnes, indicating that 9.3 tonnes of baggage was unaccounted for.

According to insiders, these two figures on the manifest and the load sheet must be the same and must be certified by the Captain of the flight before take-off.

The charge per kilogram of excess baggage is about $12, meaning that the total loss of revenue to the airline that day was about $100,000.

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