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Even before the deal is officially announced by the government, an aviation industry expert has questioned the choice of Ashanti Airlines as the preferred strategic partner for the establishment of a new home-based carrier. He questions why the Ghanaian company, which is still undergoing certification for its Air Operators Certificate (AOC) and has no experience, was selected at the expense of much more accomplished bidders such as Ethiopian and others.
“Unfortunately, everything we have seen about Ashanti Airlines seems to imply yet another government contract handed to a political crony rather than a selection on merit.
“It is unfathomable for a serious strategic partner to have zero experience in the industry they are seeking to enter, and the lack of progress they have made with GCAA even trying to acquire their licenses is another red flag. I hope to be proved wrong but I do not expect this to be successful,” Sean Mendis an aviation expert told AviationGhana exclusively.
For over a decade, after the collapse of Ghana Airways and Ghana International Airlines, the government has been indecisive on the choice of a strategic partner. A host of world-renowned airlines have all been mooted as partners at one stage or another, only for a change of mind months later.
Qatar Airways, South African Airways, Air Mauritius, Ethiopian Airlines, EgyptAir, Boeing, and Africa World Airlines (AWA) have all been mentioned at one stage or the other.
The recent attempts saw Ghana engage Ethiopian Airlines ostensibly to establish the new home-based carrier with ET as the strategic partner, given the East African-based airline’s experience and technical know-how. Indeed, a Memorandum of Understanding to guide the initial talks and future discussions was signed in Addis Ababa.
Despite the signing of an MoU with, Ethiopian Airlines to actualise the vision of a new home-based carrier, the deal was held back due to what the government described as a lack of agreement over key issues such as routes, funding, and tenure of the management contract among others.
Then enters Boeing
Ghana signed Letters of Intent on Day 3 of the Dubai Air Show 2019 for the acquisition of the three Boeing 787-9 planes with a list price value of $877.5 million and three Dash8-400s for the start of the country’s new flag carrier.
The financial arrangements for the acquisition of the planes were either a leasing arrangement with a third party funding it and regular payments made by the new carrier or an outright purchase with funding from investors or the central government.
While the deal, at the time of signing, was a statement of intent by Ghana that it wants to see its national flag back in the skies, it was good press and a show of confidence for Boeing, which was going through difficulties because of issues surrounding the fatal crashes with the 737 Max. However, this proposed partnership with Boeing and D-Havilland remained an ‘intent’ and was not pursued further.
Mr. Mendis noted that it does not appear that lessons have been learned from the collapse of Ghana Airways and its successor Ghana International Airlines.
“Government of Ghana is making the same mistakes they made with Ghana International Airlines and Ghana Airways. They have not learned their lessons,” he lamented.