Ghana’s new flagship airline hit with delays and some controversy
The Government of Ghana last year announced plans to launch a new national airline Ghana Airlines in 2023.
Ghana’s Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, made the announcement in Parliament saying, “Shareholders and partnership agreements were signed with the selected strategic partner for the home-based carrier, which will be known as GhanaAirlines. The airline is expected to be operationalized in 2023.”
The airline was expected to launch by June 2023 but so far, there hasn’t been any news and there appears to be some controversy with the deal.
Ghana had taken steps to launch its new airlines by awarding Ashanti Airlines, and financial backers, Zotus Group, a tender to begin operations later this year.
Ashanti Airlines is a subsidiary of the country’s Despite Group conglomerate with the UK-based Zotus Group describing itself as “an organisation dedicated to the development of humanitarian projects and transforming Africa and third world countries”, with a portfolio spanning areas such as hydrocarbons, manufacturing, and agriculture.
The airline is planning to start operations with domestic and regional routes, with long-haul services to destinations including London Heathrow and New York to follow.
Although the airline was expected to fully launch by Q2 2023, an article by Times Aerospace has reported that the group has yet to be awarded its Airline Operator’s Certificate (AOC) by Ghana’s aviation regulator as of June 2023.
Ghana has been without a national airline since the collapse of Ghana International Airlines in 2010. There had been efforts to restart operations with Ethiopian Airlines and EgyptAir eyed as potential partners.
The announcement of Ashanti Airlines as the new carrier appears to have ruffled some feathers especially officials from both Ethiopian and EgyptAir.
In the article by Times Aeropsace, a Ghanaian airline executive, speaking on conditions of anonymity, expressed reservations over the current deal. They stated that Ashanti Airlines had been trying to get its AOC for six years and that his understanding was that the government had made possession of an AOC a prerequisite for being awarded the contract to set up the new national airline.
“My understanding from Ghana CAA is that… they were given instructions by government to help Ashanti produce the [operating] manuals. The CAA was not willing to compromise its standards. The government then said, ‘Right, if you won’t compromise, sit with them and help them with it’,” – Anonymous Ghanaian airline executive.
The executive added that the Ethiopian Air CEO, Tewolde GebreMariam, had stopped communications with the government because of a previous experience of losing a deal to be a strategic partner with the country’s previous flag-carrier, Ghana International Airways.
The CEO had reportedly asked for guarantees that would give Ethiopian Air full control but the government pushed back and the deal fell through.
Currently, the new Ghanaian Airline is still yet to launch with only three months left in 2023.