Forecast by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) suggests that the global aviation industry’s full recovery compared to that of 2019 levels is not expected anytime soon until 2024.
In spite of these projections, domestically, Ghana seems to have made some strong gains in the aviation sector recovery even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic so far.
As days go by in 2021, this article seeks to highlight some key events that are expected to take place in Ghana’s commercial aviation circle
South African Airways to resume operations
After years of battling with financial and managerial issues which led to the temporary suspension of its operations in 2020, South African Airways will be expected to resume its scheduled flights from Accra to Johannesburg and Washington DC.
A six-member board which was established last year by the South African Government is expected to help in the re-positioning of the airline for commercial operations relaunch this year.
Additional Option for Passengers Travelling to United States
United Airlines is expected to commence operations this year in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Last year, the airline indicated that plans are far advanced in seeking regulatory approval from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) for operations in the first quarter of 2021.
United plans of servicing the Washington – Accra route from the Dulles International Airport, with three weekly flights.
With the re-emergence of United, which operated some years back in Ghana, passengers will now have more options to choose between United, Delta and South African Airways when planning travels to the United States with competitive booking offers in mind.
United is an American-based airline which ranks amongst the top five largest airlines in the world in terms of fleet size.
To operate scheduled flights between Accra and other African markets
Similar to the case of United Airlines, vflyAir also plans of setting up a commercial business in Ghana in the first quarter of 2021. Per what is known, vflyAir plans of operating cargo and passenger services in some key West Africa (Accra, Abidjan, Dakar), Central Africa (Libreville, Kinshasa), North Africa (Tunis, Cairo) and Southern Africa (Johannesburg, Cape Town, Luanda) markets.
Something tangible, more than hope for National Carrier
After the collapse of Ghana Airways over a decade ago, Ghanaians will be expecting more from the government in the establishment and operationalization of a national carrier.
Ghana’s decision to establish a national carrier is at advanced stages considering the assurances given by the Aviation Minister, Joseph Kofi Adda last year that, the government and its strategic partner EgytptAir are waiting for Parliamentary and Cabinet decisions before proceeding with operationalization plans.
So far, it is unclear the routes which the new airline will operate, however, the airline is tipped to compete keenly in the West African aviation market.
Sunyani Airport to receive domestic traffic
Tourism and trade activities are expected to see a boost as the Sunyani Airport hopes to re-open for commercial operations after being shut for rehabilitation works since 2016.
In December 2020, the Managing Director of the Ghana Airports Company, Yaw Kwawa conducted Mr Yaw Afful, Deputy Aviation Minister round the works than on the airport where he indicated that the work done was over 90% complete and the contractor was only adding finishing touches.
If the words of Mr Kwawa are anything to go by, then one can comfortably assume that the airport should be ready by end of this month and put to use possibly within the first quarter of the year.
GCAA land matters and domestic airlines
Union workers of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority for years have been demonstrating over the encroachment of their lands reserved for aviation activities by some realtors and local traditional authorities.
During their last strike action last year, the agitated workers decided to call off their strike after the intervention of the Chief of Staff at the Presidency, which further led to the creation of a technical committee on November 26, 2020, to look into the issue and make recommendations.
It is the hope of industry watchers that the committee’s work will help put to rest the perennial agitation of the union workers whose strike actions from time to time negatively impact on the operations of domestic airlines in the country.
Marginal Increment in Passenger Load Factors for International Airlines
The COVID-19 induced travel restrictions forced most international airlines last year to allow passengers to reschedule flights into 2021.
With a backlog of travels to clear by some business persons and holidaymakers, passenger load factors are tipped to appreciate marginally for international airlines who will be flying to/from Ghana.
With this, the ripple effect could be felt marginally also amongst domestic airline operators.