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03.02.2006 General News

Shortage of aviation fuel hits KIA

By Daily Graphic
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An acute shortage of aviation fuel at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) for the past two days is adversely impacting on the operations of the airlines patronizing the airport.

The situation has compelled airlines to divert their aircraft from their normal routes to Accra to other airports in West African sub region for refueling before making it to Accra.

The chairman of the Board of Airline Representatives (BAR), Abdul Aziz Mangera confirmed to the Daily Graphic and described the situation as very disturbing.

“All airlines en route to the KIA in Accra have to make stops at the airports in the sub- region such as Lagos, Niamey Abidjan and other, in order to refuel before arriving at the KIA,” he said.

The situation, the BAR chairman said resulted in increased travel time additional cost to the airlines as well as inconvenience to passengers.

“ We are not comfortable with this development and are urging the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and other institutions that have a stake in fixing this problem to act urgently to normalize the situation.

Chairman of the Antrak Group, which operates Antrak Air,Alhaji Asuma Banda also described the situation as worrying.

He said apart from increasing costs for airlines, the shortage was also adversely impacting on their flight schedules.

“ On Wednesday, Antrak Air because of the fuel shortage, had to cancel flights to Ouagadougou, the Burkinabe capital. We could not fly to Tamale and Kumasi, which constitute our main domestic routes. This is not good for airline business,” he said.

According to the Antrak chairman what was more disturbing about the situation was the profound silence on the matter by those who should readily be forthcoming with information on the matter.

“ We don't know what is happening. No one has told us anything and no one has so far explained anything about this situation to us. This is not good for business,” he said.

Alhaji Banda said while he is not directly blaming anyone for the current state of affairs, it was nevertheless proper and necessary for people to live up to their duties and responsibilities as well as alert and explain issues to those adversely affected by difficult situations as and when they arose.

Country director of the North America Airlines, Obed Owusu-Kissi also said he got wind of the shortage from a source within the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

He said his source however assured him that the problem would be resolved by close of work today (Friday).

According to him, although his airline flew once in a week on Sundays, it was important that all the airlines were officially informed so that they could plan ahead.

That, he said the authorities have failed to do, making officials of the airlines to use their own sources to ascertain what was going on.

Mr Owusu-Kissi said if the problem were not resolved, his company's aircraft would have to make a stopover in Banjul, The Gambia for refueling before coming to Ghana and return via the same route.

Airport manager of British Airways, Eric Owusu Manu said it was only on Wednesday that the GCAA issued a notification to the airlines expressing the hope that the problem would be resolved by February 28, 2006.

An official of the GCAA who did not want to be named confirmed the shortage but said steps were being taken to help return the situation to normalcy.