Ghana is the latest African nation to support development of an international airline to boost its economy and develop tourism as its government signed a provisional order for three Boeing long-haul 787 Dreamliners.
The move at the Dubai Airshow, a focal point for Middle East airlines expanding into Africa, came almost a decade after the collapse of Ghana’s flag carrier, but left uncertain a proposed tie-up with Ethiopian Airlines.
“We need to ferry Ghanaians to Europe, North America to Asia for business. We need to ferry them from those places back to Ghana to do business and enjoy,” Aviation Minister Joseph Kofi Adda told reporters at the airshow.
Ghana hopes to launch a new airline with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners by early 2020 with flights to Europe, North America and Asia. At the same time in will service routes in Africa with up to six Dash 8-400 aircraft, also provisionally ordered on Tuesday from Canada’s De Havilland Canada.
Ghana’s government will hold a 10% stake in the yet to be named carrier and the rest will be held by the private sector, the minister said. Adda was in talks with regional carriers including Ghana-based Africa World Airlines to invest in the new airline, but no deal was finalised.
“If a regional carrier joins us as a partner, we will go together on intercontinental routes,” he said.
Adda made no mention of Ethiopian Airlines, reported earlier this year to have sealed a partnership agreement with Ghana to develop and run a national airline.
“Government is throwing weight and support behind the new venture,” said airline consultant Nick Fadugba, chief executive of African Aviation Services. “It is a signal they are determined to do it with or without Ethiopian, but if it has Ethiopian’s support it will have a greater chance of success.”
The new carrier could boost Ghana’s chances of becoming an aviation hub in West Africa, Adda told reporters. Existing Ghanaian airlines do not fly on intercontinental routes, according to Adda.
The plans could overlap with Ethiopian’s affiliated hub in neighbouring Togo, barely 100 miles away.
“The challenge for Ethiopian will be how to balance their hub in Lome, Togo, with a new hub in Ghana,” Fadugba said.
A string of attempts to set up airlines in West Africa floundered for political and financial reasons.
Ghana has a stable economic environment following conclusion of a three-year lending programme with the International Monetary Fund in March and oil revenues have boosted its growth to one of the highest in the region.