Ghana Airways Must Learn From Ethiopian Airlines!

Feature Article of Monday, 8 April 2013

Columnist: Eyiah, Joe Kingsley

By Joe Kingsley Eyiah, OCT, Brookview M.S., Toronto-Canada

Are Ghana’s public institutions collapsing as a result of complacency, mismanagement and bad party politics in the country? Can’t we learn from the success stories of some public institutions of our sister African countries? For example, what is preventing the Ghana Airways from learning from the dynamic operations of the Ethiopian Airlines to the benefit of tax payers in Ghana? Is it the actions cum inactions of the country political leaders? Or is it the mismanagement of such institutions by their administrators? Or is it the result of the overly complacency on the part of the Ghanaian electorate? Answers to these pertinent questions may be wide, varied and contentious (as we often hear from contributors on Ghana’s numerous FM Radio stations) but not far-fetched to critical observers as well as open-minded Ghanaians!

One may caution my choices of comparison here. Why compare Ghana Airways which was founded in 1958 to Ethiopia’s flag carrier that was established in 1945? Well, there is Ghanaian wise saying which literary means, ‘the follower always learns from the footsteps of the leader.’ True or false? I happened to travel by Ethiopian Airlines to Ghana this March and I was amazed by many positive things of this public institution of a sister African nation. For the records, Ethiopian Airlines is wholly owned by the government of Ethiopia! Its headquarters are at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. It serves a network of 62 international destinations and 16 domestic ones, more than any other carrier in Africa. Ethiopian, as it is simple called, is one of the fastest-growing carriers in the industry. It is also among the largest on the African continent, and obviously one of the few profitable airlines in the Sub-Saharan region. What an impressive record to be emulated!

My first surprise during my recent visit to Ethiopia was to be recorded at the Addis Ababa International Airport! There were numerous Ethiopian Airliners (planes) ready to transport passengers to various countries and cities in Africa! One could hear the calls for passengers going to Nairobi, Malawi, Djibouti, Khartoum, Kilimanjaro, Maputo, and so on. “It was just like Kejetia in Kumasi where many tro-tros are ready for passengers!!!!!” This is a clear evidence of how Ethiopian is serving Africa through effective management of its operations! Can’t Ghana Airways learn to grow the same way?

The history of Ghana Airways has been bedewed with poor management and political games. When it was established in 1945, the government of Ghana had a 60 percent stake, with BOAC holding the remainder. When the company was founded, a seven-year agreement between the airline and BOAC was signed, which saw BOAC personnel being seconded to Accra, and Ghanaian personnel being trained in order for them to take over management and operation of the airline. However, due to mismanagement of the Ghanaian personnel who took over the operations of the airline and coupled with corruption in the corridors of government, the airline ceased operations in 2004. It was to be revived during 2010 as a partnership between the government of Ghana and Arik Air of Nigeria. However, Ghana Airways was heavily indebted due to lack of adequate infrastructure and mismanagement. It was unable to keep up with its debt repayments, and due to the government refusal to pump more money into the airline, Ghana Airways was liquidated in June 2005. Its demise was obvious!

Today, Ethiopian Airlines can boast of its direct flight from Toronto to Accra twice a week. Where is Ghana Airways in such development in the carrier business? We rather have Delta ‘Ghana’ Airlines which flies from the United State direct to Ghana. Unfortunately for Ghana, Delta Airlines is a major United States airline headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. It is not Ghana Airways! It primarily serves high volume domestic flights and long haul international services. The airline has big plans for the future and will only grow in terms of revenue and its services. Poor Ghana Airways must learn from these leaders in the carrier business. Complacency, corruption in the corridors of government and mismanagement of public institutions in Ghana must STOP NOW! It is only the fool who never learns from good examples around to grow. God save Ghana!!