Retired International Airline pilot, Captain Michael Foli, has disclosed that for any country to operate an airline, it is risky business, and that Ghana should refrain from owning one.
According to him, just like any business, it is imperative to know whether there is a market for the product. He explained that this is necessary because nobody wants to enter into any business and lose money, especially not at a time that the country is experiencing such financial constraints.
Reacting to Transport Minister, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah’s statement that Ghana Airways will be operational by July this year and that the airline will operate as a national carrier following the decision to award Ashanti Airlines, and its operational and financial partner, Zotus Group, a tender to commence business, Cpt. Foli indicated that the government now is aware of the risk in setting up and running an airline, that is why it is considering bringing in private investors.
“We have had many private airlines set up in Ghana; some collapsed promptly, and others collapsed over a period of time. It only proves the fact that airline operation is a risky business. So, if you want to do an airline, make sure you do your studies, [whether] the market really exists, have a business plan and have the funds to support it.”Captain Michael Foli
Cpt. Foli indicated that currently, no country should start and run an airline on its own because it is not feasible. He noted that it is an industry that nations are running away from, and Ghana should equally refrain from such plans.
“… It started long before COVID. Nations started washing their hands off airlines. It’s only in Africa that we’ve had nations setting up and running airlines… Kenya airways, the government wants to sell 100% of its share, Uganda airways is also having serious problems. So, Ghana should not even think of forming an airline.”Captain Michael Foli
Cpt. Foli expressed surprise about the enthusiasm with which the government is announcing its plans of operating a national carrier, whereas it’s missing when it comes to assisting local airlines. He noted that local airlines deserve government’s intervention as they are really struggling.
“Now, we know that PassionAir was flying to Ho, but it stopped operations because it was not economically viable… So, the government should rather direct its attention to assisting domestic airlines. There was a time when domestic airlines were not being charged tax on the purchase of fuel – that’s the way government was encouraging domestic airlines. Now, I am told by the operators that they pay full tax on the fuel and it’s overburdening their operations.”Captain Michael Foli
Government urged to support private airlines
The retired international airline pilot urged government to support private companies who desire to setup an airline since it’s an open market. This, he explained, is because the government “lending its name alone” to an airline is an unfair advantage.
“The government can only come in, if an airline says it wants to fly international routes now. Then the government needs to come in to negotiate the rules because negotiation of rules and certain things are done at government-to-government level… The government should not touch, invest, encourage any airline, unless the government see that operation is profitable and setting up a new airline is not the way to go. Let’ look at how our two surviving domestic airlines and see how we can help them…”Captain Michael Foli
On his part, an aviation expert, Dr Yakubu Akparibo, revealed that in modern day aviation government should not have a role in managing airlines. Citing African countries with state-owned airline, he stated that with the exception of Ethiopian airlines which is doing better, Kenya Airways is currently struggling, while South African Airways has gone bankrupt. Owing to this, he iterated that government should not have a key role in managing an airline.
“This agreement, I’m made to understand that government will not put in any investment in the establishment of these two airlines and government is going to have about 10% stake. So, I don’t know if this 10% equity is going to be capital injection or whether it’s going to be tax reliefs that they are going to give them… So, I think the main thing will be government’s interference – if government can stay off it…Dr Yakubu Akparibo
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