Ghana Airways, Third-Time the Charm?
The face of Ghana’s aviation industry is transforming. That’s not hyperbole. If you passed through Kotoka International Airport in December 2017 and December 2018, those two experiences would be dramatically different; owing to the opening of a new international terminal this year.
Now the authorities have announced that (a) Ethiopian Airlines will be the strategic partner in the long-anticipated launch of a new flag-carrier airline, and (b) another three domestic airlines are expected to begin operations in the coming weeks.
Ethiopian has similar arrangements in place with Zambia and Chad as well as a 40% stake in Asky airlines. Most likely, they will make use of Accra’s new international terminal as a staging post for their own flights to the Americas, a rapidly emerging market for them.
Given the size of the diaspora, the importance of trade to the economy and the ambitions to ‘gateway to Africa’, the availability of aviation services is a politically potent issue. Also, there is the symbolic value of a national carrier. Nevertheless, one can anticipate concerns around the rumoured structure of the new national carrier hinging on well-worn themes of ownership and financial management: government is expected to hold a ten percent stake, Ethiopian 49% and the remainder other private sector investors.
Key questions, as yet unanswered surround the balance of obligations across stakeholders, how government will exercise its control, and who the private shareholders will be. Not to mention the controls to be put in place to avoid the governance and operational errors of the past.