The management of Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) has been caught in a web of huge debt which is affecting its plans to expand and improve the standards of the airports to higher international pedigree but has denied false news making rounds that Kotoka International Airport was to be sold to a Turkish firm as alleged by some workers.
The debt, it said is as a result of the Terminal 3 loan repayment which is denying the Company extra revenue to undertake other investments. According information made available by GACL, the total debt stands about US$300 million after being reduced from US$400 million.
At a press briefing last week, the GACL said it was shocked by the decision of the workers to protest over an alleged sale of the company saying there is no such plan to sell the company to the Turkish firm as being alleged by the workers. However, the Company noted that it has just received a proposal which is yet to be considered in a partnership deal, and not one putting the outfit up for sale.
“President Nana Akufo-Addo’s approval to the Ministry of Aviation to engage TAV-Summa Consortium from Turkey as a strategic partner for the management of the GACL is one that is being fashioned in a manner that would see substantial investment into Ghana’s aviation sector and ensure a very viable and liquid GACL which would further enhance the international standard of the sector,” Minister of Aviation, Hon. Joseph Kofi Adda has said at the press briefing last week.
He added that, “The fact of the matter is, the Ghana Airport Company is chocked with this Terminal 3 debt which it has been paying for a long time. Because of that, they are not able to get any extra revenue to undertake other investments.
“There is no privatization of the Ghana Airports Company Limited in any way. There is no management take-over of GACL. There is no planned lay-offs or retrenchment or redundancies of any sort in respect of the GACL personnel.”
The aviation minister also noted how COVID-19 has stalled developments in the aviation sector of the country.
“But for COVID-19 and its adverse impact on the Aviation Sector, there would have been more recruitment needed as the expansion works at Kumasi, Tamale and Sunyani are on-going and possible new airports in the Western and Upper East Regions.”
On his part as the managing director of the Ghana Airports Company Limited, Yaw Kwakwa said the protest by the workers union was staged out of malice.
The President has also made it very clear that “we should find a way and make Ghana an aviation hub of the sub-region. We cannot do this unless we expand the infrastructure. With this debt on the back of the Ghana Airport Company, you have to find resources from elsewhere,” Mr. Adda said.
He further outlined the concept note that has been shared with TAV-Summa Consortium to guide them in shaping an offer for government consideration. The concept note begun by looking at the initiation process which concentrates on the scope of work that needs to be done to make Ghana an aviation hub.
The notes, Mr. Adda added go further to talk about the financial, the value for money, component of their proposal and also looks at the strength of the company, accessing their ability to recapitalize the GACL, reshape its current debt status and give the GACL more financial freedom.
“The Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that government would want to commit TAV-Summa Consortium to include, strategic ways to structure communication flow and ensure that all players are aligned to the course,” he said.
“It has been 30 years since Ghana refurbished its runway and it would cost some US$39 million to embark on such an initiative and the Ghana Airport Company does not have that money to do that. With this debt, we cannot even do that. If this company comes, is it something we can push them to do? We are not sure, so we need to negotiate. These are part of the reasons why we need a partnership,” Mr. Kofi Adda said.
He added: “Let me emphasize that airport company management would not be touched, the new ventures that we are going to set up are separate companies; that is if we agree, those are the ones that would now look to manage affairs, perhaps get our own personnel from Airport Company to be part of that. These are things that the union even does not want to listen to and engage us to understand.”
The minister said, the agreement is at its teething stage and nothing concrete has been arrived at and therefore the union of the GACL should be rest assured that their interest and the interest of the country would be paramount.
By Adnan Adams Mohammed