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09.08.2004 General News

Editorial: Crass Stupidity At Ghana Airways (1)

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CRASS STUPIDITY! Or is it extreme managerial irresponsibility of criminal proportion? These two scenarios best describe recent events at the nation's only carrier, Ghana Airways.

Forgive us if the GYE NYAME CONCORD's diction this Monday morning sounds un-diplomatic. Truth is we're in no diplomatic mood. Neither are we in a mood to sound diplomatic. Rather, we're in a mood to call a spade a spade; stupidity and incompetence what they indeed are. And we're ready to go to town on this exhibition of extreme incompetence, to say the least, by the Management and Board of the national flagship.

Otherwise how do you explain the following scenario?

An al Qaeda member managed to hijack a plane because of a mechanical malfunctioning that delayed and allowed it to be seized only to release it later. Few days after releasing the plane, the pilot and crew were told by Osama bin Laden's son and representative that if the plane were to fly to their city again, it would be blown into smithereens and that unless the mechanical fault that delayed and allowed the plane to be hijacked was repaired, they could not guarantee the safety of the plane. Then management of the plane officially explains that because bin Laden's brother had not sent an official letter to them, they decided to take a risk and fly the plane to bin Laden's city only for it to be blown. And only for evidence to also emerge later that a letter was even sent by bin Laden's rep to the management of the airline.

Dear GYE NYAME CONCORD reader, what would you call the management of the airline in this scenario?

Your response applies to the Ghana Airways management, in that they are caught up in a similar scenario.

Just imagine this! Few weeks before the Ghana Airways flight was grounded in the US and its license to fly direct to the US revoked, the same flight had a problem in the UK over its C-Check deadline. Indeed the UK authorities even realised that certain basic airline records were not even being met by the crew of the airline. Somehow, the UK authorities allowed the flight to return to Accra with a warning to get the plane fixed.

That is where the criminal incompetence of Ghana Airways management showed. It did nothing and sat on its bums waiting for their fat allowances and tickets to probably fly down lovers for sex sessions in the name of reconciling accounts, etc.

Worse still, days before the flight emplaned to the US on it fateful journey, officials of the US Embassy in Accra, the official representatives of the US Government and all institutions of State and private individuals/institutions that answer to the call of “In God We Trust”, informed the White Avenue head office of the airline that the plane should not be flown to the US, and that if it did, its license would be revoked.

But why should pilots and management staff, some of whom have interests in the lease of the aircraft, waste their breath and protect the integrity of the national property? No way! They flew the airline alright into turbulence and into the hands of a US Government waiting to ground the flight and revoke the airline's license.

Then what did they do when the issue came up? Give us the silly excuse that the earlier notice from the US Embassy warning them of the consequences of flying the aircraft to the US was not in written form, so they could not work with it.

So they could not even check the accuracy of the information with Ghana Airways' offices in both New York and Maryland. They could not equally direct staff of these offices who received salaries from the airline regularly to do these basic checks. Neither could they confer with the FAA or US authorities on the accuracy or authenticity of the message from the US Embassy in Accra, if they had reason to doubt the Embassy's notice. And they couldn't check all these in this day of mobile phones, Internet, e-mail, fax, etc? What balderdash? What nonsense? What trash? Nnkwaseasem? Sekee a sane!

But hold on, that is not all. It later emerges that indeed they were sent a letter spelling out what would happen if they flew to US and that some people rather chose to ignore its content for whatever reason.

What do you wish we call this?

Suffice it to say that no warning even came from the Americans, how would you describe a management team/Board that sits down for its airline licence to expire, and still chose to put the safety and insurance of passengers in danger by flying the airline? Stupid! Incompetent! In-effective or what?

Just sample these excerpts of the official statement issued by the US FAA on Ghana Airways on the day it revoked the licence. Then, tell us what you think?

“The US Department of Transportation late this afternoon notified Ghana Airways that it currently has no authority to operate its service into and out of the U.S. until aviation investigators can resolve what the Department described as serious questions surrounding the safety of its aircraft and why it continued to fly to the US despite the fact that it had allowed its operating license to expire earlier this month. Ghana Airways is the government-owned and operated airline directly linking all of Western Africa to the United States.

“The decision was prompted by several factors, including two incidents wherein the airline used a particular aircraft to fly roundtrip flights between Ghana and New York and Ghana and Baltimore, one Saturday and the other Monday, despite an order from inspectors with the Federal Aviation Administration to ground that particular aircraft until safety questions could be resolved.

“In addition, the Department has questioned why the airline allowed its operating licence to expire in mid-July but continued to operate unauthorised flights since that time. Because the airline allowed its licence to lapse, regulations require a thorough review of an applicant before it can be renewed.”

To borrow the words of Ako Folson, one of the numerous writers on this Ghana Airways saga, “it is not only a disgrace but an indictment on our leadership, and our management capacity, with respect to the very organisation and also the ministry and all associations and regulatory agencies that are somehow tied in to this organisation.

“It shows the lack of a sense of urgency and our forever disrespect for contracts, which in the western world represents what it is meant to achieve, an agreement between parties to honour a certain product, service, or position.

“This one failed organisation, Ghana Airways, has brought disrepute to Ghanaians, at large, possibly through negative publicity, reduced the potential of tourism, definitely impacted the competitive pricing of flights to West Africa, smeared the image of Ghanaian organisations with respect to integrity and the quality of management running these organisations.”

We have nothing more to add than to say we will return to this issue soon.

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