European Airlines Boost Capacity To Accra To Satisfy Growing Demand

International airlines servicing the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), mainly from Europe, have increased their capacity on the route with the deployment of wide-bodied aircrafts and increases in flight frequency between Accra and Europe.

The development has been attributed to increasing importance of Accra as a preferred hub within the West African sub-region and the upsurge in regional carriers.

“There is quite an increment in the offering. There is quite a lot of additional capacity from Europe to Accra and vice versa,” Mr. Axel Metselaar, KLM Country Manager affirms.

“If you look at the West Africa sub- region, Accra is becoming a hub for distribution of passengers to Europe. After the demise of Virgin Nigeria, there has been an increase in regional carriers; Accra has more or less become a hub,” Worlanyo Afadzinu, Country Manager Asky Airlines, told the B&FT.

The increase in capacity to Accra raises concerns about the infrastructure on the ground to adequately cope with the increasing traffic. The expansion of the facilities at the only international airport has been a demand of most airlines for some time now.

Though some works are on-going, as part of Phase-three of the airport redevelopment plan by the Ghana Airport Company Limited passengers still face serious concerns — especially during early morning domestic flights by domestic operators and late evening flights by international carriers.

The increase in boarding gates, expansion of departure and arrival halls, and timely completion of installing a new baggage carousel system are needed to bring the KIA up to the standard of some of the major airports being developed in Senegal and the Gambia.

The Transport Minister, Dzifa Attivor, last month indicated that government is going to facilitate the construction of a third terminal at the KIA to take pressure off the current Terminals 1 and 2. However, works are yet to start.

So far, regional carriers currently servicing the KIA include: Air Mali, Air Cote D’Ivoire, Gambia Bird, Air Burkina, Asky Airlines, and Arik Aero Contractors.

British Airways has deployed a Boeing 747 on the Accra-London route. Lufthansa last week started operating an Airbus A330 on the Accra-Frankfurt route. The two carriers already offer daily services to their respective hubs from Accra with onward connections to major European destinations.

Portuguese airline, TAP Portugal, will also be operating daily flights from Accra to Lisbon with onward connections to Brazil during the summer, in order to profit from the 2014 World Cup being held in Brazil from June 12 to July 13, 2014.

Air France KLM is also expected to increase its capacity by 1.9 percent on the long haul and 1.1 percent on the medium-haul routes. “We are pleased with the Airbus A330-300 on the Accra route. This fits the need of our customers perfectly.”

With a few months before the football World Cup in Brazil, Air France KLM has entered into an agreement with Gol Airlines, a Brazilian carrier, to offer a complete package to Ghanaian travellers.

Passengers travelling from Accra on Air France KLM will connect flights to the South American country and be able to reach about 28 domestic destinations in Brazil on Gol Airlines.

“We have not increased capacity directly to Brazil, but have entered into an agreement with Gol Airlines. It’s a link to a Brazilian carrier, whereby we will work closely and are able to offer domestic flights to almost all destinations in Brazil,” Mr. Metselaar said.

International passenger throughput in Ghana for the 28 airlines in 2013, hit one million. KLM, Emirates, British Airways, Arik and Delta are among the leading carriers in terms of passenger throughput.