New airports are to be constructed in Ghana’s tourism hotspot, the Central Region, and the mineral-rich Western Region to boost economic activities in the two regions and further open them up for investment, Aviation Minister Ms. Cecilia Abena Dapaah has said.
“Ghana seems to lead in term of aviation in the sub-region. The inauguration of Terminal 3 at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) and completion of Phase Three of the Tamale Airport and the Phase Two of the Kumasi Airport, as well as the planned construction of new ones in Cape Coast and Takoradi will open up the country by air,” Ms. Dapaah said.
She was speaking during the maiden meeting between the Aviation Ministry and some aviation training schools in Accra.
The Central Region, which is a major tourism destination in the country given its rich history and UNESCO World Heritage Castles, is only accessible to tourists – domestic and foreign -by road.
Connecting the regional capital, Cape Coast, from Accra is hampered by heavy vehicular traffic. It takes about two (2) hours to connect from Accra on a typical weekend when many people usually travel for tourism purposes.
Takoradi, on the other hand, has a military aerodrome that is used by civilian airline operators for domestic flights.
However, the limited use of on-ground military-owned facilities necessitates the establishment of a new civilian airport in keeping up with current and future growth – following the grant of more licences for oil exploration activities off-shore the Western Region.
Government announced recently that it will be issuing new licences to deserving companies by the fourth quarter of this year, during the country’s first-ever bidding round to award new licences to major IOCs.
Following the Exxonmobil deal, the country is looking at doing business with global E&P giants to allocate about six new oil blocs in a bid to sustain production in the oil and gas sector.
These new developments in the oil and gas sector, in addition to existing use of Takoradi Port for exporting minerals sand lumber, will expectedly lead to increased activity on the Accra-Takoradi corridor.
Aviation training schools’ challenges
The about-10 aviation training schools that attended the meeting said the cost of training cabin crew and pilots in Ghana is very expensive, and thus called on the Aviation Ministry to facilitate the creation of a fund in the likeness of the Student Loan Trust Fund, so students can access funding for their education and pay later.
Another challenge identified by the school is the limited use of Kotoka International Airport (KIA) for training their student pilots.
Others included the inability of trained cabin crew to secure jobs locally and with foreign airlines, certification challenges, and landing fees at KIA among others.
Ms. Dapaah said the various aviation training schools should form an association to make dealing with them as an entity easier, and for regulatory purposes.
She further advised them to form collaborations with well-established aviation training schools on the continent, Europe or America which have the facilities and charge relatively lower fees for their pilot-training programmes.
She also impressed upon those who are not certified to go through the process and get certified in order for their certificates to be accepted internationally.