After years of waiting, a new Ghanaian flag carrier could be on the horizon
Ghana is moving closer to establishing a new national carrier as the government prepares to reveal the name of its new partner at the end of July 2022, a source familiar with the matter told AviationGhana.
The collapse of former national airlines Ghana Airways, which occurred in 2004, and Ghana International Airlines, which followed six years later in 2010, left a void in Ghana’s airspace. However, after 12 years of delays a new airline is now on the horizon.
Ghanaian government to name partner as launch approaches
As part of the ongoing effort to establish a new Ghanaian flag carrier, four companies - Ashanti Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines (EA) and financial firm JNH Group - have been recognized as potential suitors, according to AviationGhana.
Ghana-based Ashanti Airlines is owned by local business magnates Osei Kwame Despite, co-founder of the Despite Group of Companies and his partner, Ernest Ofori Sarpong. EgyptAir, the state-owned flag carrier of Egypt, operates from its hub at Cairo International Airport. Based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Airlines is an East-African airline and aviation group, and JNH Group is a Ghanaian management consultancy firm and brokerage.
Overseeing the selection process for the new partner is a committee designated by Kweku Ofori Asiamah, Ghana’s Minister for Transport.
However, a source told AviationGhana that Ashanti Airlines is “likely” to win the bid.
Ashanti Airlines is preparing to commence operations in Ghana as it nears the end stages of obtaining the licenses required by the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). The carrier has already acquired an Air Carrier License (ACL) and is finalizing its acquisition of an Air Operator Certificate (AOC).
What happened to previous partnerships?
In 2016, the Ghanaian government put forward an invitation to international airlines interested in partnering to establish and launch an Accra-based flag carrier.
According to Ethiopia’s The Reporter, airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines, Air Mauritius and Africa World Air, were among the parties that expressed their interest.
After a year-long selection process, Ghana’s Ministry of Transport selected Ethiopian Airlines (EA) as a suitor.
According to The Reporter, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Ethiopian Airlines and the Ghanaian government in December 2018, which was followed up by the signing of a strategic partnership agreement in May 2019.
At the time, EA had already partnered with governments of Zambia, Chad and Guinea to launch new carriers and had established a regional hub in Lome, Togo.
The new airline, intended for domestic, regional and international services, was expected to commence operations by the end of 2019 or early 2020, a source close to the matter told The Reporter.
“The government of Ghana will have a ten percent stake while private investors from Ghana will have a minimum of 41 percent stake in the Joint Venture Company. Investment firms from other West African countries may invest in the new venture. Ethiopian and the government of Ghana will together look for potential investors,” the source told The Reporter.
However, according to Business Insider Africa, disputes surrounding key issues, such as flight routes, flight frequencies, financing and management tenures, arose between the Ghanaian government and EA.
The government went on to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with EgyptAir in October 2020 over “more favourable terms”, according to Business Insider Africa. The deal was subject to parliamentary approval from the Ghanaian government.
What do we know about the new flag carrier’s intended fleet?
In November 2019, the Ghanaian government signed a provisional order at the Dubai Airshow to acquire three Boeing 787 Dreamliner, hinting at the future airline’s desire to accommodate long-haul routes.
The new flag carrier’s routes within Africa are expected to be serviced by a fleet of up to six Dash 8-400 aircraft.
Aviation Minister, Joseph Kofi Adda spoke to reporters at the airshow, mentioning the need to connect Ghanaians to destinations in Europe, North America, and Asia, according to a Reuters report.
"There is a growing demand for air travel to and from Ghana and we believe the advanced 787-9 Dreamliner gives us an efficient and flexible machine to launch a regional network and eventually serve international destinations in the future," said Adda in a statement from Boeing.
According to Boeing’s statement Adda said "Africa boasts a growing, young workforce and vast natural resources. We see the demand for air travel continuing to rise across the continent.”
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