Opinions Mon, 25 Aug 2014

Government must reconsider decision to establish a national airline

Government must reconsider decision to establish a national airline-"discussion and decision"


As part of the government's policy of industrial revolution and reviving certain industries which collapsed due to negligence and bad administration, The Ministry of Transport has signed a contract for transaction Advisory services for the establishment of a National Airline to be operated on a Public-Private partnership. Discussion & Decision (D&D) holds contrary view to government position and think government must reconsider this decision and bow out of the deal to save this country another nightmare.

Our attitude both governments and citizens, contributed to the present economic quagmire we find ourselves, administrative negligence and bad attitudinal tendencies accelerated this bad situation we find ourselves as a people so in taking fresh remedial decisions, policymakers and implementers must factor in what went wrong in the past and also institute effective measures to curb repetition of such elementary mistakes. The mental chemistry of the citizenry especially administrators must be worked on to prepare them spiritually, morally and academically for the transformation we all envisage.

This is not the first time we are entering into Public-partnership in the airline business. When Ghana Airways was established in July 1958 by the government of Ghana, the then government entered into a seven year agreement with BOAC, with government of Ghana putting in 400,000 pounds taking 60% shares and the remainder going to BOAC. The Airline started Accra-London route with Boeing 377 and made a reasonable net profit of 28,000 pounds, the first year. The fact is BOAC brought its personnel to Accra on secondment to see to the airlines operations.

Nkrumah was at point accused by his leftist friends including some opposition elements of betraying his leftist friends and tilting to the right. He quickly entered into negotiations with the then Soviet Union in August that year for Six Hyushin at the cost of 600,000 pounds. The state made a net profit of 462,000 pounds by the end of 1960.We were able to make this gains because, Nkrumah knowing our handicap in handling such sensitive areas, allowed expatriate experts to handle affairs with some Ghanaians studying under them. We began having challenges with our airline business when government officials and other influential persons in the system started manipulating affairs of the corporation beginning late 70s.

Acquisition of aircrafts to support existing ones became lucrative business for government officials, in 1975 when we went for Macdonald Douglas DC9,serious underhand dealings were discovered, this was when government had placed an order for a DC10 and KLM was about to deliver the aircraft. In 1983 when KLM finally delivered the DC10, serious corrupt deals were uncovered. This was how we handled Ghana Airways at a point. Debt engulfed the Airline leading to bad administrative as well as operational duties. In 2002, some disgruntled passengers threatened to burn our DC10 and offices at Banjul because of bad flight arrangements.

In June 2002 the airline's DC10 was seized at Heathrow Airport after a British creditor got a legal judgment order to recoup 4 million unpaid debt owed him by the airline. According to Sam Jonah who was chairman of the entity then, the airline was in debt of around 160 million dollars. These events chronicled, must guide the present administration to diligently study this move to establish another airline. There hasn't been any in-depth research and investigations into reasons why the once vibrant and profitable venture, collapsed so easily. Government has not feed the public with reports on research done to support re-establishment of the national airline.

D&D, holds the view that, we have many pressing issues to tackle as a nation and such are the areas we must put on priority list in planning into the future. This is not the time to take fashionable policies, but prudent policies which would quickly support prudent policies initiated by the government. Government is still pulling itself of paying certain subsidies and supports, Training Colleges allowances scrapped, these are tough but prudent measures to lessen burden on the state we shouldn't therefore initiate policies or programmes which would exert unnecessary pressure on our budget with no significant profit to gain. The airline industry across the globe is going through serious challenges with many powerful airlines disposing off shares and aircrafts. We don't have the comparative advantage in entering into this venture.

Instead of establishing a national airline, we think government must look at our internal transport system. STC is dying off, our bad roads giving transport operators, serious challenges. We must take a look at this area first, government stands gaining more with less pressure from fuel supply and other capital injections. Our coastal areas must also be given serious attention. We need to have a definite policy and also, target particular areas we can easily use to break through the international market. The fishery industry must be watched and operators, given the necessary support. Our coastal belts are still in that old horrible state and need serious attention.

We must chose for ourselves, policies and programmes which would have direct positive impact than adhering to policies and programmes propounded by these Briton Wood institutions which have no direct bearing on the life of the masses.


Ohenenana Obonti Krow

(CEO, Discussion & Decision)

Columnist: Krow, Ohenenana Obonti