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General News | May 17, 2004

Ghanaians To Select New Name For Ghana Airways

ADM

Ghanaians would soon have the chance to participate in an exercise to select a new name for the national carrier.

Could it be Ghana Akwaaba Airways? Could it simply be New Ghana Airways? Or even Royal Ghana Airways? This will all be settled in the coming months when the strategic partner opens a competition for Ghanaians to have an input into how their new airline would look. The new name and new logo will be based on an open competition for Ghanaians.

ADM has information from aviation industry sources that, one of the most respected airline executives in the US would be relocating to Ghana to take charge of what industry insiders have described as the most far-reaching restructuring exercise in Africa's aviation history. J. Ralph Atkin, founder of Sky West himself, is said to be preparing to move to Accra once certain details in the MOU between his company and its strategic partners, represented by the Ministry of Transport have been ironed out.

At the time of going to press last Saturday, the MOU was said to be receiving attention at the highest level in Ghana. Due to investor confidentially, ADM is not able to delve much into that just yet. But ADM has picked up certain highlights. The ETOPS certification Ghana has would be upgraded so that more modern aircraft like the 7E7 can be added to the fleet at a later date.

This means that “our pilots would have to be converted from their current expertise on the DC 10 to other aircraft to fully qualify them to handle some of he many modern aircraft that now criss-cross the world's skies”, said an industry insider. There will be an infusion of expatriate staff initially, basically for technology and business ethos transfer. These “expats” would be phased out over time. Due to the induction of new technology, the maintenance facilities of Ghana Airways would be upgraded, there would be retooling of equipment and retraining of engineers. This, said a source, “is so that maintenance of the new company's aircraft would be carried out in Accra instead of the US, Ethiopia or elsewhere.”

The pan, he said, is to make Ghana a regional hub, a potential it already has. The source said, “What Ghanaians should know is that, with (Mr.) Atkin coming, it is just like saying Sir Richard Branson is moving to Ghana only that Mr Atkin is even bigger! These people are not bringing any low-level consultant to come and mess about. Their international credibility is at stake in his Ghana venture and so they can't fail.” Perhaps with all these great expectations in mind, the Director of Airport Management at Kotoka International Airport (KIA), Mr Chris Quaye has said airport taxes on airlines among other services must be reviewed in order to make Ghana the hub of the sub-region.

Speaking at a lecture at the weekend to commemorate Aeronautic Information Service (AIS) Day, he said “high and unaffordable fares have been and continue to be the major factor militating against our drive towards making KIA a hub. Air Burkina and Air Togo stopped operations to KIA partly because of airfares.”

Speaking on the topic, “Making KIA the Transport Hub in the sub-region: The Challenges,” Mr. Quaye said the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) should consider “liberalising the airline designations,” as well as to develop routes within the sub region to support the dream hub. He said although the national carrier, Ghana Airways, is not in a stable position to develop some existing lucrative routes, other airlines could be used for Ghanair to reap the benefits later.

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