Business News of 2013-12-20

Harmattan causes flight disruptions

…domestic operators hardest hit

The onset of harmattan is disrupting scheduled flights from the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) to the northern regional capital, Tamale.

The harmattan, which is characterised by poor visibility, has forced domestic airlines to cancel or delay flights to Tamale where the harmattan is particularly strong. However, flights to Kumasi, Sunyani and Takoradi have been on schedule.

The harmattan has also necessitated a change of the landing pattern at the KIA -- with flights landing from the El-Wak Sports end instead of the regular Spintex Road end of the runway.

In an interview with the B&FT, Mr. Antwi, the Chief Executive Officer of Starbow -- one of the affected domestic operators which cancelled its flights to Tamale on Monday and Tuesday -- said: “On Monday, visibility was 2,000 metres, which was less than our minimum level of 2,600 metres. On Tuesday, visibility was just 1,500 metres between 8:00am and 11:00 am when most carriers fly to the northern part of the country. Our aircraft are in good shape, but we have had to cancel the flights for safety reasons due to the poor visibility”.

He added however that the airline will resume its flights when visibility improves.

In a related development, a section of the KIA is expected to be cordoned off today to make way for a full-scale public health exercise at the airport. The exercise is expected to last for three hours, from 9:00am to 12:00 pm local time.

The exercise, code-named “Pandex Obaatanpa 2013”, forms part of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) rules and International Civil Aviation (ICA) regulations which charge member-states to take effective measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases through air travel.

The exercise will simulate a suspected passenger with an infectious communicable disease on board an arriving aircraft and the subsequent response by the various agencies which make up the emergency operation control group of Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL).