The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and Ghana Airport Company (GACL) have waived landing charges indefinitely for all flights that use Ghana’s airports. The move is to help alleviate the plight of airlines and other stakeholders in the aviation space due to the effect of COVID-19 on their operations.
Managers of the country’s aeronautical and non-aeronautic space say considering the loss of revenue to the airlines, the decision was a no-brainer. The Director General of the GCAA, Simon Allotey, told the B&FT in an interview that: “As at now, we do not know when the COVID-19 will ease; so we have taken a decision that until the situation improves, landing charges have been waived. The important thing is sustainability of the domestic industry.
“We realise that it is important to operate in a safe and efficient manner, and at the same time abide by the Ghana Health Service’s COVID-19 protocols so that Ghanaians will be transported safely to do their business and go about bringing whatever will lead to sustainable economic development. So, we cannot give a time limit for the waiver on landing charges.”
He was quick to add that the situation is being keenly monitored and decisions will be made per changes which occur in the industry as time goes on, and as measures are being put in place to ensure the country’s readiness to open its air for full operations.
Even before this decision, the GCAL had announced a three-month waiver for rent, parking, lighting and also royalty payments from April to June. Due to the fact that the Kotoka International Airport has been partially closed except for domestic airlines, tenants of restaurants, gift shops, forex bureaus and others have also had their rent waived for the same period.
According to Mr. Allottey, the move by the two agencies is coming at a great sacrifice as their revenue flow is running into the negatives. “It is a difficult situation for everybody, but as the agencies involved we need to offer some support to the service providers and the industry even though we are also hurting so badly.
“We have a responsibility as state agencies responsible for the industry to make sure airline operators and other service providers can recover as early as possible from this COVID-19 effect on the industry.”
The move, industry players believe, will provide some respite for domestic airlines who have had to cut down their passenger numbers and also invest in the implementation of some safety protocols amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
The Aviation Minister, Joseph Kofi Adda, told this Paper that his ministry will be holding a forum with major stakeholder in the sector next week; to draft measures in the bid to get prepared for commencement of full commercial operations.
The current pandemic has pushed the global aviation industry almost to the wall, with major international airlines cutting thousands of jobs and asking governments for bailouts. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that the pandemic could cost the industry about US$250bn this year.
According to IATA, worldwide flights were 70 percent lower at the start of second-quarter this year. The association predicted a further decline as restrictions rise in a number of regions. It projected that though airlines have little or no revenue coming in, they have to spend about US$60billion in the second-quarter, as “some costs cannot be avoided and ticket refunds [are] also burning cash”.