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08.05.2004 Business & Finance

Hope For Ghanair

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The government has accepted the business plan of Ghana International Airlines, owned by Sky West Airlines and Sentry Financial Corporation, both based in Utah, USA, to partner it to run Ghana's distressed airline, Ghana Airways.

The two are now holding intensive talks to finalise the deal, which is expected to be completed latest by the middle of this year to pave the way for the signing of a joint venture agreement. The deal, when sealed, would be expected to bolster Ghana Airways which owes $167 million. “We want a win-win situation”, the Minister of Roads and Transport, Dr Richard Anane, said in an interview in Accra on Thursday. He said just as the government would want a better deal for the country, the GIA was also keen on getting the best, and indicated, “This is why we are holding the talks to create a win-win situation”.

Dr Anane did not disclose the details of the business plan of GIA but confirmed that “the plan is fine and has been accepted by the government.” GIA and Kenya Airways-KLM Fidelity were the two consortiums which were shortlisted by the government in an attempt to find a partner to run Ghana Airways, but due to the take-over of KLM by Air France, sources have indicated that the airline's direction has changed. Some attempts by the government to enter into similar agreement failed, after the talks between it and Nationwide Airlines of South Africa ended abruptly last year.

Sky West Airlines provides approximately 1,200 flights daily to 106 cities in 28 states in the US and Canada. Analysts have argued that given the current state of Ghana Airways, it would be prudent for the government to either invite a company to go into partnership with it to run the airline or totally dispose of it. They also say Ghana Airways has a lot of goodwill, in spite of its numerous problems, and so any capital injection into its operations would make it bounce back into its glory. The move by the government to get a partner for the airline has taken another dimension, since it is being speculated in some sections of the media that the Ghana International Airlines is owned by Mormons.

When asked about that, Dr Anane asked back “Are they not human beings with rights to do business?” He asked the media to be circumspect about the utterances they make about foreign businessmen to save the country from losing investors.

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