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04.10.2004 Business & Finance

TUC rocks Ghana Airways deal

TUC rocks Ghana Airways deal
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Accra, Oct. 4, GNA - The Trades Union Congress (TUC) on Monday called on the Managing Task Force of Ghana Airways to rescind its decision on the take-over of the airline until due industrial procedures were followed. "Clearly the Task Force has ignored something that could set back the clock of development in the Ghana Airways and this could create equally enormous problems for the Task Force in their efforts to rejuvenate the national airline," Mr Kwesi Adu-Amankwa, TUC Secretary-General said. He told a news conference in Accra that the situation was very disturbing as it subverted ongoing deliberations between the National Union and the Sector Ministry. He said a recent meeting between the Task Force and the workers of the Company gave indication that the operations of the national carrier came to a close on Friday October 1, this year. "This, we are told, is to pave way for Ghana International Airline, the company whose association with Ghana Airways has been embroiled in some controversy to take over the management of the Ghana airways," the Secretary General noted. Mr Adu-Amankwa said the decision, "to say the least, is unfortunate and against the principles of good labour practices. "Indeed for any management to give just a day's notice for a management take-over of any organization represents contempt for due process and for sound industrial relations practices." He said under modern standards in corporate governance in industrial relations, it is incumbent on management to involve workers in discussing matters that affected their welfare. Mr Adu-Amankwa reiterated that it would be in the interest of all parties in the negotiation process that there existed transparency in all endeavours relating to the restructuring and take-over of the Ghana Airways. The Government on September 7 announced that it had reached an agreement with Ghana International Airlines (GIA), a consortium of corporate entities, to form a partnership for the operations of a new airline that would replace Ghana Airways. The agreement, it said, was to pave the way for technical negotiations that would enable the Management of the new airline to take control of Ghana Airways and start commercial operations by the first quarter of 2005. Dr Richard Anane, Minister of Roads and Transport, said the new Company would be used as a platform to raise new equity, debt and equipment financing of approximately 55 million dollars for the new airline. Under the agreement, Mr J. Ralph Atkin, Founder of SkyWest Airlines in the US, would head the new airline as the Chief Executive Officer. The GIA consortium is made up of the World Transport Group Incorporated, a Utah based company with Mr Atkins as President, Sentry Financial International Incorporated from Salt Lake City. The Minister said a major contributory factor to the agreement was the fact that GIA agreed to bear some risks in the operations of the new airline. GIA was the only bidder, which agreed to share in the risks and also presented the best business plan. KLM/Kenya Airlines and Ghana Air Partners were the other two short-listed partners but out of the two, the former was prepared to share part of the risks but did not present a good business plan while the latter was not ready to share any risks at all. Dr Anane said the Government and GIA would take shares in the percentages of 70 to 30, respectively. He said the Government had appointed a Taskforce to manage the orderly "wind down" of Ghana Airways while negotiations continued for the new airline to be constituted. The Government has also appointed Price WaterhouseCoopers, Financial Consultants to advise it on the ring fencing of the debt of Ghana Airways. The Minister explained that Ghana Airways had been struggling to maintain consistent commercial operations due to mounting debt and a deterioration in the performance of its operations. Government, therefore, decided to find an experienced strategic partner based on diagnostic, forensic and expert advice on how to turn the fortunes of the airline around.