Business News of 2014-01-10

Airlines gear up for World Cup bonanza

Airlines flying from Accra are gearing up for increased travel to Brazil during the summer, as fans make plans to go and witness the football World Cup in the country that has had the most success in the tournament.

Ghana will be making a third straight appearance at football’s biggest event, alongside Cameroon, Nigeria, Côte D’Ivoire and Algeria representing the African continent.

Airline chiefs who spoke to the B&FT said the expected boost to travel in the summer will add dynamism to Ghana’s upwardly rising aviation market, which continues to grow as economic expansion increases incomes and boosts foreign direct investment.

Lufthansa, British Airways, Tap Portugal, KLM, Ethiopian and its partner Asky have all announced an increase in flight frequencies to the various destinations in Brazil.

Lufthansa is introducing an Airbus A330-300 on the Accra route to offer flights from Accra to two destinations in Brazil, via Frankfurt. Ethiopian is deploying its Boeing 787 on the Accra-Brazil route via Lomè, the hub of its partner Asky, which is expected to provide the feed. TAP Portugal, which has a large presence in Latin America, has increased its flight frequency from Accra to Brazil via its hub in Lisbon.

British Airways will also operate a Boeing 747 on the Accra-London route with onward connections to the South American country.

“Together with Iberia, we will be offering lots of flights to Brazil. That’s where the action is going to be during the World Cup period. We stand ready to fly Ghanaians to Brazil,” said Moran Birger, British Airway’s Country Commercial Manager.

“There are direct connections with Iberia in Madrid to Brazil, and direct connections in London too,” he added.

Mr. Kevin Markette, Lufthansa’s Country General Manager, told the B&FT that the airline will offer flights from Accra via Frankfurt to Sao Paolo and Rio de Janerio in Brazil. “Together with our Star Alliance partners we are able to offer an extensive network to major cities in Brazil that will enable Ghanaian fans to experience a variety of matches.”

In anticipation of the increased travel during the month-long football showpiece, he urged groups and individuals to book their flights promptly. “Due to the high demand during this time seats are limited and customers are encouraged to book early.”

Domestic carriers are also positioning themselves to benefit from the expected upsurge in passenger throughput in the summer to the Latin American country.

One notable quest is the resolve of Africa World Airlines (AWA) to operate flights from Accra via Lagos to Brazil in the summer. “For our intercontinental routes, we are planning on getting a bigger aircraft, possibly an A319, which we can use for flights to Brazil during the World Cup,” said Michael Luo, the Chief Executive Officer of the airline.

Antrak and Starbow, two other domestic operators, have indicated they have plans to bring football aficionados from Kumasi, Tamale, Sunyani and Takoradi to Accra for onward connection to Brazil.

“We plan to offer very good promotional fares to football fans who will be travelling from the various domestic destinations to Accra en route to Brazil,” Kwaku Antwi-Boasiako, Chief Commercial Officer of Antrak, said.

Eric James Antwi, the Chief Executive Officer of Starbow, also stated: “We have plans of carrying soccer-loving passengers from Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale to Accra en route to Brazil for the World Cup tournament.”