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Aviation Sector is broke – Minister laments impact of Covid-19 on airport revenues, investment

Aviation Minister Joseph Kofi Adda says the aviation sector is “broke” as loan repayments and expansion projects grind to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“With Covid-19, everyone is broke, the Aviation Sector is broke plus every other aspect of the economy. Before this pandemic, Ghana was doing remarkably well.

“Some of our passenger numbers went up from about 2.6 million to about three million. When we ended last year, we had over 3 million passengers.

“What we were confronted with before Covid-19 in terms of investments and the servicing of those investments we are not in the best position to pay off those loans quickly and embark on other expansion projects,” he revealed.

The aviation sector continues to reel from the impact of the coronavirus.

Here in Ghana, the cancellation of international flights and closure of the Kotoka International Airport has left the Aviation sector down with losses.

Setting Ghana’s aviation sector up for international repute and competition has been at the forefront of the Akufo-Addo led administration.

Already, many gains have been made with the Kotoka International Airport placed first in a 2019 ranking by the Airports Council International.

The Year of Return initiatives skyrocketed passenger numbers to about five million as at the end of 2019.

Beyond the $275 million investment in Kotoka Airport, the Kumasi, Tamale, and Sunyani airports are also benefiting from major improvements to infrastructure. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has reversed gains made by the Aviation Sector as travel restrictions spread countrywide.

This development has let the management of Ghana’s aviation sector consider several strategic forms of partnerships.

But there have been suspicions that the Aviation Ministry seeks to privatize the Ghana Airport Company under the pretext of seeking a strategic partner – these the aviation minister, Joseph Kofi Adda has debunked.

“ Neither the Ministry nor the GACL has yet formally started any process of engagement on the subject matter with any stakeholder or partner. We, therefore, wish to note that the false information on the sale of the Kotoka International Airport being circulated in the media/social media is the work of mischievous and malicious elements to pitch the staff of GACL and the general public against the government to achieve their diabolical agenda and erode the successes chalked in the Aviation Sector for the last three years”.

Meanwhile, the Aviation Ministry has hinted at opening investigations into the leakage of documents and board room conversations that have led to recent suspicions of the privatization of the Kotoka International Airport to a Turkish Firm.

These suspicions have seen workers of the Airport Company Limited agitate against the supposed sale.

So far, the sector minister, Joseph Kofi Adda has maintained under no circumstances will the Kotoka International Airport be sold.

“We have undertaken an investigation and identified some people who were the cause of the leakage. Some have confessed they have given some documents out from the ministry to the Airport Company.

“The latest one that we saw was this concept paper and executive approval that went from the board level to workers that shouldn’t have gone and we have identified those behind that.

“Usually, such people get fired, suspended, or interdicted,” he told Joy Business.

Workers of the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) had embarked on a demonstration to register their displeasure over the government’s alleged plan to privatize the company.

These workers claimed the Aviation Ministry intends to hand over the company to a Turkish investor, stating they cannot allow that to happen.

Sector minister, Joseph Kofi Ada, has denounced all these allegations stating “no agreement whatsoever has been reached with the Turkish firm”.

Urging the public to disregard the reports, sector Minister, Joseph Kofi Adda said the government was, however, deliberating with stakeholders including the GACL a proposed Strategic Partnership Arrangement to improve service delivery and expansion of infrastructure at the Airport.

A 2018 ministry of finance report showed that the Ghana Airport Company Limited collected revenue of ȼ475.56 million through airport taxes alone. This was a more than 35% increase from the previous year.

The reduction in flights and visitors caused by the pandemic will reduce revenue from aeroplane landing fees, fees for using Ghana’s airspace, and other charges such as the passenger safety charge.

In effect, this dip has already all the value chain of the travel sector with hotels laying off workers and various tourist sites closing down.

 

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