Gov’t seeks stronger aviation collaboration with Turkey

Ferhat Yerli and Cecilia Dapaah

The Aviation Ministry is seeking a deeper collaboration with its Turkish counterpart in the area of aviation training, as Ghana positions itself to be the hub of choice in the West African sub-region.

Ms. Cecilia A. Dapaah, the Aviation Minister said: “ Ghana and Turkey can collaborate in the area of training, knowing the capacity of Turkish Airlines and the training facilities you have in Istanbul.

“When your technical experts come for the up-coming African Air Show, we will have discussions with them; and if we have to sign an MoU on technical cooperation, we will do so,” she said.

Ms. Dapaah said this when the General Manager of Turkish Airlines, Ghana – Ferhat Yerli, paid a courtesy call on her to discuss the Istanbul-based airline’s support for the up-coming maiden African Air Show – scheduled for October 24-26, 2017 – and to announce its special Sales Festival for the Ghanaian market.

“They are here as an airline that is doing well. They have grown 75 percent and intend to grow their capacity to 80 percent in December. That is what we expect all businesses to do; to take advantage of the conducive atmosphere and expand their business.

“Ghana is the best place for investment, and you cannot be disappointed and you will not be disappointed because we have a pool of talent that you can tap into. We believe such businesses can help the economy grow,” she said.

On his part, Mr. Yerli said the airline has grown its capacity by 75 percent over the last decade, and intends to increase that capacity growth from 75 to 85 percent by December when it deploys a wide-bodied aircraft, an A330, on the Accra-Istanbul route.

He added that his outfit is open to support Ghana’s aviation sector growth through technical collaboration.

“We have just reduced our airfares in our Sales Festival, which is supposed to last for two months and make it possible for many people to travel,” he said.

He explained that under the airline’s two-month long promotion, passengers will enjoy discounted return-fares from Accra to major destinations such as Washington for US$999; Amsterdam, US$539; Dubai, US$549; London, US$639; and New York, US$999.

Under the promotion, passengers are to book by November 30, 2017 for travel before December 31, 2018.

There are 37 airlines operating in the country, with some other airlines undergoing certification to operate domestic, regional and international flights to and from Ghana. B&FT sources say there are also more applications pending.

The country’s aviation industry has been growing significantly over the past decade, except for a small patch in 2015 when growth was briefly truncated by the Ebola threat.

International passenger throughput has grown over the period as more measures are put in place by policymakers to strengthen the sector. Key among them is the ratification of about 10 conventions in 2015, which included the Cape Town Convention.

On the domestic front, abolition of the 17.5 percent tax on domestic air transport this year has led to a sharp increase in domestic passenger throughput.

Domestic passenger throughput from Accra to the four major domestic destinations in the country – Takoradi, Kumasi, Sunyani, Tamale – has increased significantly, data from the Ghana Airports Company shows.

Domestic passenger throughput for the first quarter of 2017 has increased by 33 percent over the same period last year; increasing from 88,793 in Q1 2016 to 118,159 as at Q1 2017.

The significant increase in passenger volumes, in a period that is usually characterised by low yield in the country’s domestic aviation sector, has been attributed to the surge in economic activity since the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led government assumed power on the back of promises to cut some taxes it described as ‘nuisance’.

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