... Courtesy Dr. Richard Anane There is now no doubt that the NPP Government has killed the country's “Pride in the Air”, Ghana Airways. All that is left now is to write its obituary.
And culprit? “Lover boy” Dr. Richard “Condom Free” Anane, the man who claims that his condom-free extra-marital bonking and sexual escapades with an American lady that resulted in little baby boy Nicholas Anane, benefited Ghana immensely.
Dr. Anane's underhand dealings with the Mormon Group, the Ghana International Airlines (GIA) to whom he has handed over the once thriving national airline on a silver platter, has left the airline deprived of its three DC10 aircraft and three DC9 aircraft as well that was used to fly the West Coast route.
Two of the DC10s have been seized in Rome, Italy, and one is parked at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra, and is being systematically cannibalised. The DC9s are impounded in Naples, Italy. Two other planes leased by Ghana Airways during the NDC era have been bought by Antrak Airlines.
Since Ghana Airways was officially grounded last December, the following are some of the untoward happenings that have occurred at the airline
First, a 3-member Task Force to manage the non-existent airline was set up. The members are paid ¢1 million per day each.
Second, US$2.9 million royalties paid by KLM to Ghana Airways has been diverted to the account of GIA on the instructions of Dr. Anane.
Third, the staff of Ghana Airways have not been paid since December 2004. Negotiations have been dragging on at snail's pace, and the last offer from the Government was for two weeks' salary multiplied by five across board. This was understandably rejected by the workers.
Fourth, many of the highly trained staff of the airline have been lost to the country. Some have gone to settle in the USA, some are furthering their education, and the rest are looking for new jobs. Many of the pilots have taken employment in South Africa, Chad and as far away as Afghanistan.
Fifth, it has now been established that Dr. Richard Anane is the Ghana representative of GIA in Ghana. Ordinary, for a Single Purpose Vehicle such as GIA is, this should not have raised any eyebrows, except that when Kwame Peprah did a similar thing in relation to the leasing of the Presidential Jet, J. H. Mensah and Co. said that it was the height of criminality and corruption.
Sixth, even though GIA put out a Press Release that it would not take over any assets of Ghana Airways, it is nevertheless operating from the official residence of the Managing Director of Ghana Airways, which it uses as its office.
The critical question today is: “Who killed Ghana Airways?”
For answer, we repeat our 'Front Page Comment' in our issue of Friday, September 1- - Monday, September 12, 2005, which we titled: WE WEEP FOR GHANA AIRWAYS Ghana Airways was once the pride of the nation.
As part of the NPP's propaganda of lying its way into power in the run up to the 2000 elections, Kufuor and his NPP allegedly floated rumours among the staff and a section of the public that the then NDC Government was on the verge of liquidating the national air carrier.
The NDC struggled unsuccessfully to deny the rumour. The Party argued that Ghana Airways was strategic to the NDC's vision of developing Ghana into the “Gateway to West Africa” and that Ghana Airways featured prominently in that vision and in the plans for the achievement of that vision.
Development of Ghana's tourism potential through celebrations such as 'Panafest”, 'Black History Month', 'Emancipation Day', among others; Ghana's participation in UN Peacekeeping operations; the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, and the ready assistance that Ghana Airways gives on occasions when stranded or besieged Ghanaians have to be repatriated or evacuated back home – all made Ghana Airways a strategic national asset that ought not to be divested without care and caution, if at all.
But the NPP carried the day. Ghana Airways' Assets As of January 2001 when the NDC was leaving office, Ghana Airways had 3 serviceable DC10s and 2 DC9s, all in good working condition. Two of the DC10s with regn nos 9G ANB and 9G ANC were acquired by the Airline with financial support from the NDC Government.
With an expanded and enhanced fleet, Ghana Airways signed on quite a large number of cockpit crew and the biggest ever intake of flight attendants to put the aircrafts to maximum use.
The Airline then began flights to Baltimore/USA and Dubai/Beirut, with plans to open the Atlanta/Georgia, Toronto/Canada and Cameroon and Las Palmas/ Spain routes in 2001.
These could not have been signs of an Airline earmarked for divestiture.
The coming into office in 2001 of the NPP saw a systematic and deliberate disintegration of this cherished and viable strategic national asset. Presidential Death Sentence As for President Kufuor, just as he rejected the Presidential Jet, he also disdainfully rejected Ghana Airways and chose never to fly by the national Airline.
For all his nearly 90 foreign trips, apart from a few sub-regional travels when he used the national Airline, he has never travelled with Ghana Airways outside West Africa. His was a total declaration of “no confidence” in the national Airline, a cue that was taken by his Ministers and the travelling public.
At one of the very few Castle Press Conferences that he has held since he has been in office, the President did not bat an eyelid as he passed sentence, “Ghana Airways is almost dead”.
He then proceeded to explain how Ghana Airways was not reliable and that if he were to use it to fly to the UK, for example, some British protocol officer would be stuck up at the Heathrow Airport waiting all day long for Ghana Airways to arrive. Of course that was a Presidential funeral dirge for the Airline.
Whilst the President hops from one political platform to another entreating Ghanaians to patronise “Made in Ghana” goods and services, he patronises and unconsciously expands the foreign Airlines he flies with using our hard earned foreign exchange to the detriment and extinction of our national pride in the air.
We have learnt that the Captain Kwakwa-led administration, appointed soon after the NPP Government took office, set out to discredit its predecessor administration instead of immediately pursuing its vision for the Airline.
Though Ghana Airways' debt situation was not the best at the time, the Kwakwa administration played the financial situation of the Airline into the domain of the media and created the impression that the Airline could “collapse” tomorrow.
As a result, Alitalia impounded the DC10 regn no 9G ANA when it was sent for servicing for servicing charges owed it by Ghana Airways. Meanwhile, DC10 9G ANC had been grounded in Accra by the Kwakwa team for what they alleged were irregularities in the purchase of the 9G ANB and 9G ANC.
With only one DC10, that is, the 9G ANB, in service, delays and cancellation of flights took its toll on the entire Airline and it became common sight to find passengers demonstrating at the airport or vandalising Ghana Airways property. Ghana Airways' passengers would normally not go that far, but that was the reaction to the consequences of incompetence and vindictiveness.
We have learnt that Mr. Bray took over from Captain Kwakwa and sought to negotiate a payment plan with Alitalia and had 9G ANC ferried to Rome to be serviced alongside alongside 9G ANA.
As Mr. Bray was settling into office, he was replaced and the servicing of 9G ANA and 9G ANC were stalled. Ghana Airways virtually had no aircraft since the only surviving DC10, the 9G ANB, was due for servicing and it did not make sense to ferry it also to Rome when two others had been impounded.
It was therefore parked at the hangar in Accra and other Airlines, one a Canadian and another a Yugoslav, were leased to fly the American and European routes respectively on lease.
With time Ghana Airways went on to lease two DC10 aircraft that were much older than Ghana Airways' own DC10 aircrafts at the rates of US$4,000 per hour when engines started running and left our own aircraft to perish in Rome.
The only surviving DC10 aircraft, the 9G ANB sits in the Ghana Airways hangar in Accra and continues to be cannibalised each day to keep the leased aircraft running.
There is another matter that manifests gross incompetence. We have learnt that 9G ANA, ANB and ANC re more cargo efficient, equipped with much better in-flight entertainment and are much newer than the rather obsolete ones leased from the USA at such high costs.
As readers may recall, 'Ghana Palaver' has much earlier published that one of the leased aircraft from the USA was 31 years old!
No wonder with such obsolete aircraft, Ghana Airways compromised safety for which it has been renowned all these years and lost its licence to fly the New York and Baltimore routes.
Ghana Airways had earlier lost such promising routes as Dubai/Beirut to Emirates Airlines and Johannesburg to South African Airways on a silver platter due to the incompetence and vindictiveness of the Kufuor-appointed administrations.
For this reason also, since the Kufuor Government came into office, Ghana Airways has lost quite a chunk of its most experienced crop of airport operations or traffic staff to British Airways, KLM, Emirates, Lufthansa and South African Airways among others due to ill motivation.
Ghana Airways staff is generally ill motivated. In 2001, the staff and crew were forced to sacrifice between 50% and 60% of their salaries and allowances to redeem the Airline from a seemingly bad financial situation, but there is no indication that these sacrifices would yield any dividends any time soon.
The issue of Ghana Airways being overstaffed is relative to the serviceability of all of Ghana Airways' own aircrafts. If all Ghana Airways' aircrafts should be in operation, there would be work for each member of staff and to spare and the Airline could not be said to be over-staffed. But of course where the Airline has no aircraft to fly, most of the staff automatically and obviously become redundant. Staff per Flight If hypothetically Ghana Airways during the peak season operates the following flights:
(i) 4 flights a week to the UK with its own aircraft requiring 12 crew each = 48
(ii) 4 flights a week to the USA, that is New York/Baltimore requiring 15 crew each = 60
(iii) 2 flights a week to Beirut/Dubai each requiring 12 crew – 24
(iv) 2 flights a week to Germany requiring 12 crew each flight = 24
(v) 2 flights to Johannesburg with 12 crew each = 24
(vi) 14 short haul/regional flights a week requiring 84 crew members = 84
Given this scenario, Ghana Airways would be making maximum use of both flying crew and ground staff, that is 180 crewmembers out per week on outgoing long haul flights and 84 crew per week on regional flights.
However with the loss of nearly all the Airline's aircrafts and air routes, the staff are all virtually redundant. After all, what is an Airline without aircrafts?