Ghana national airline takes another step forward

EgyptAir’s help has been enlisted to help dream become a reality. Alan Dron reports.

Up in the air: Ghana has signed an as-yet-unconfirmed commitment for three Boeing 787-9s. Picture: Boeing.

While details of EgyptAir’s assistance have still to be made public, the Egyptian flag-carrier signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ghanaian Government in October 2020 to help the west African state create a new flag-carrier.

EgyptAir will become a ‘strategic partner’ in establishing the new airline; it declined to give further details.

The new airline is described as being ‘affiliated’ with the Ghanaian Government, rather than state-owned. It is thought that once the government has established the carrier, it will then take a back seat, allowing aviation industry professionals to run the operation.

This is in contrast to many African national airlines, which suffer from government control or interference.

Accra is likely to have noted that the continent’s most consistently successful airline, Ethiopian, is state-controlled but that the Addis Ababa-based government takes a hands-off attitude to its operations.

Ghana has been without a national carrier since Ghana International Airlines (GIA) collapsed in 2010. GIA replaced the heavily indebted Ghana Airways in 2005.

At 2019’s Dubai Airshow, the Ghanaian Government signed an MoU with Boeing for three 787-9s for a new national carrier, plus a letter of intent for ‘up to six’ De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400 turboprops. Neither commitment has yet been firmed up.

Victor Brobbey, a lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, told African Aerospace that he is sceptical about the new airline getting off the ground. His view stems from past experience of national airlines not being well-managed. This had been the case with Ghana Airways, while Ghana International Airlines had been too heavily burdened by debt.

However, he added, the newly refurbished Kotoka International Airport in Accra was under-utilised “so there’s some economic rationale for starting the new national airline”.

Ghana believes Kotoka can become a new west African hub.

Additionally, said Brobbey, economic developments in the country tended to follow its four-year electoral period. And, with president Nana Akufo-Addo having recently been re-elected, his government would be keen to chalk up achievements, such as the successful creation of a new national airline.