Ghana has granted fifth freedom rights to operate flights between Accra and London, following it successful operation of flights on it Accra-Washington route in the past year. Pending some requirements to be satisfied by the South African Airlines (SAA), the airline could begin flights between Accra and London.

Speaking at a dinner hosted by the South African Ambassador to mark the first anniversary of successful flights on its Accra-Washington route, Mr. Fiifi Kwetey, Minister of Transport said Ghana has granted SAA the right and all that remains is for the airline to complete some processes between SAA and the United Kingdom.

Mr Kwetey said the granting of the three rights to SAA, including a right to operate Accra-New York flights was part of government's moves to make Ghana an aviation hub with many airlines operating to different parts of the world from Accra and in line with the Yamoussoukro Decision, of which the country is signatory.

The relationship with SAA over the last year on the Accra-Washington route has been very productive; with recorded increase in the number of visits into Ghana from Washington and the same for New York and subsequently for the Accra-London route.

Meanwhile, he noted that Ghana is actively pursuing its dream of having a national carrier, albeit with increased private participation. "All these are part of a long term plan which will eventually see us having our own national carrier," he said.

He said Ghana is well positioned to operate the hub strategy being used by countries like the United Arab Emirates (Dubai) and Singapore, and which is very important for economic growth.

He said government is working with a timetable on the national carrier and expected to have a first flight by October, with regional routes. Mr Kwetey said the details of the airline would be communicated as soon it is ready to make a major announcement.

"We are not looking at being the majority owner, we want to have a significant minority, but we expect the private sector to be in the majority in order for us to have a very sustainable airline," he said.

South African High Commissioner, Madam Mary-Theresa Lulama Xingwana, congratulated the all-female crew that flew the delegation from South Africa to Accra to mark the anniversary.

She noted that the success of the route was the result of a strong partnership between both countries and the private sector. "We would like to commend them for the support that they have given us over the year. This is one of the best routes for SAA, in fact this is the best route internationally, not just for SAA," she stated.

She said the route has grown business between Ghana, South Africa and the United States. She pledged her country's continued support and partnership in the area of skills transfer and technical support to help Ghana prepare for the running of her own national airline.

Ms Gloria Yirenkyi, Ghana Country Manager of SAA said from a zero per cent market share at the start of operations in August last year, SAA now has 74 per cent of the market share on the Accra-Washington route and recorded a 14 per cent overall growth on the route.

She noted that the airline, on the anniversary of the route announced special fares for flights starting September 5, and looked forward to giving some more to its customers and possibly increasing its frequency depending on market demand.

She said the airline is also working towards the start of operations on the Accra-New York route by end of 2016.

Source: All Ghana News