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The Ministry of Aviation says plans to establish a home-based carrier as a way to enhance and promote growth in the aviation industry in the country will materialise by the end of this year.
She stated that the establishment of the carrier would have the potential to generate financial and economic benefits with its multiplier effect on Ghana and within the West African sub-region.
According to her, approval has been given to negotiate with Air Mauritius and Abu Dhabi while continuing discussions with Ethiopian Airlines and other strategic investors to establish a home-based carrier with Ghanaian participation.
Speaking at the ministry’s turn at the Meet the Press session, held at the Ministry of Information, outgoing Minister of Aviation, Cecilia Abena Dapaah said a new and updated aviation-sector master plan was necessary due to Ghana’s position in the sector and also to help it compete for investment.
She said it is in government’s plan to make the aviation industry grow to become the centre to control domestic, regional and intercontinental flights within the West African sub-region, and this quest to become a sub-regional hub for airline travel could be easily achieved if the country has a home-based carrier.
Madam Cecilia said government has embarked on a massive infrastructural development at all airports and to provide air navigation equipment.
Madam Dapaah said Ghana would start processes to develop an aviation master plan to better position the industry for investment.
She said the development of the aviation master plan had become necessary in order for Ghana to be able to attract investors.
She said that all countries had been tasked to update and submit their master plans to be considered by the African Development Bank and the Kuwait Fund, among other prospective investors, which is being done.
The move to use the plan to attract investors is significant given the outgoing Minister’s admission that inadequate funding was one of the major challenges in the sector. She said the challenge was key, considering the high cost of financing for aviation infrastructure.
Mrs Dapaah said the ministry had undertaken various initiatives geared towards enhancing the sector, with some successes.
Key among these is the ministry’s collaboration with the Ministry of Finance to abolish the 17.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on domestic air fares in April 2017, in a bid to make domestic air travel more affordable to the public.
The policy, she said, was reflected in the reduction of domestic airfares, through the ministry’s intervention.
“The policy also had an effect on domestic passenger numbers. For instance, domestic passenger throughput increased from 302,270 as at September 2016 to 373,429 in the same month of 2017, representing a 23.5% increase.”
The ministry had also initialled Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs) with Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Rwanda, following Cabinet’s approval for the signing of BASAs with contracting states.
BASAs allow for commercial air transport services between the two contracting countries. Ghana has also re-negotiated existing BASAs, such as the one with Nigeria, which allowed Africa World Airlines to commence daily flights to Abuja. It also commenced flights to Monrovia and Freetown, based on existing BASAs.
Mrs Dapaah also noted that the ministry, following the adoption of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), to which Ghana is a signatory, had signed the memorandum of implementation for the harmonisation of Air Services Agreements.
According to the Minister, the construction of the modern air navigation services is currently underway at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) to provide state-of-the-art equipment for the air navigation services and offices for traffic air controllers and engineers.
She said after completion, it would have communications systems, that is air-to-ground and ground-to-ground systems, search and rescue system, surveillance system, weather system, Aeronautical Message Handling System (AMHS) and Traffic Management Co-ordination.
She added that the building would also have six air travellers controller which would allow for operations, supervision and emergency rescue control centre.
The Minister outlined inadequate funding to support infrastructural development, encroachment of aviation lands by individuals, high price of jet fuel and taxes placed on importation of spare parts as some of the challenges facing the aviation centre.
She also outlined some gains made so far by the ministry, which include the design and construction of Terminal 3 building at KIA, Terminal 2 expansion at KIA, construction of Kumasi airport phase ll, construction of Ho airport, and construction of Tamale Airport phase ll.
Source: Naomi Quarshie ABAKWAN & John APPIAH || The Finder, Accra