AWA expands regional operations …set to start Freetown flights

Indigenous airline Africa World Airlines (AWA) is scaling-up its sub-regional operations with the addition of Freetown, Sierra Leone, to its destinations.

The airline’s new service to Freetown is expected to offer more travelling options to Ghanaians seeking to do business in neighbouring West Africa states or travelling for pleasure.

AWA is expected to announce some promotional fares from Accra to Freetown to mark the start of the new service.

AWA, which serves the Accra-Lagos-Accra and Accra-Abuja-Accra routes, recently started servicing the Accra-Monrovia-Accra route as it positions itself to be the airline of choice in a sub-region that craves improved intra-regional connection to facilitate trade, investment and easy movement of people.

AWA, on December 12, 2017, also started a direct service between Ghana’s capital Accra and Liberia’s capital and key economic hub, Monrovia.

The airline operates flights between the Accra and Monrovia on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The Accra-Monrovia-Accra flights departs Kotoka International Airport at 11:30hrs on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and arrives in Monrovia at 13:30hrs. The return flight departs Monrovia at 14:10hrs and arrives in Accra at 16:10hrs.

It further announced in January 2018 the start of a Lagos-Monrovia service via Accra, as it seeks to improve connectivity within the West African sub-region.

The Africa region, and West Africa sub-region specifically, is not well-connected enough for the various economies to realise the benefits of aviation as a result of subtle protectionism policies and non-adherence to the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999 that sought to promote open skies in the continent.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that opening up African air routes would boost Ghana’s GDP by US$46.8million; Nigeria, US$128.2million; and Senegal, US$40.5million. It would also enhance connectivity, and lead to drops in air-fares.

In January, the Africa Union was able to get 23 Africa countries to launch the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), an initiative geared to getting the countries to abide by the Yamoussoukro Declaration and liberalise their air spaces.

Domestic operations

AWA remains the only airline currently providing domestic air services between Accra and Kumasi, Tamale and Takoradi.

It has had to increase its frequency on the Accra-Kumasi-Accra route from 5x per day to 6x per day, and from 4x per day to 5x per day on the Accra-Tamale-Accra route to meet the sudden increase in demand due to the temporary suspension of flights by Starbow – the only other domestic operator.

Richard Kyereh, Dy. Head of Commercial, AWA, noted that this is to “help with the demand since the suspension of flight by Starbow”.

Over the next six months, two more airlines are expected to complete their certification process with the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), which will enable them to operate domestic passenger flights and meet the current demand.