A new airline, Africa World Airlines, Thursday launched its operations in Ghana with a promise to change the face of the aviation industry in the country.
The airline, which would ply the domestic route including Kumasi and Tamale and the West Africa sub-region, will be powered by two Embraer ERJ-145 jets.
The company inaugurated the first of its two aircrafts at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in Accra, during the launch. There was wild jubilation among management and staff of the company when at exactly 11:25 a.m., the plane touched down at the KIA.
This brings to five the number of domestic airlines operating in the country. The others are Starbow, Fly 540, Citylink and Antrak, which have an average of 20 domestic flights throughout the country.
With the initial complement of two aircraft, the airline is expected to fly to West African cities including Ouagadougou, Abidjan, Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcout, Dakar, Banjul.
Addressing the media, the Founder of the Airline, Togbe Afede XIV, said the AWA had a strong team of shareholders determined to make a change in the aviation industry in the country.
He said the airline’s operation in the country would open the West African sub-region by linking the region to other parts of the world.
The AWA is a joint venture between the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Strategic African Securities and the Hainan Airlines of China, and is set to commence full-scale regional operations on September 21, 2012.
The airline will be operating a route network that will be structured to create a hub-and spoke model centred in Accra and allowing seamless one-change connections between multiple city pairs on a single ticket for the first time in Ghana.
In the sense of aviation, an airline routes all of its traffic through one central hub or hubs. Almost all of the airline’s aircraft fly on spokes between destinations and the hub, with very few direct flights between other destinations. Routing all the traffic through the hub actually makes the overall system more efficient.
“Gone are the days when someone travelling from Accra to Burkina Faso would have to transit through France,” Togbe Afede said.
“We pledge our commitment to making Accra the hub of the aviation industry in the sub-region,” he said amidst applause from the excited staff of the company who could not resist posing and taking pictures around the aircraft.
Togbe Afede commended the captain and crew of the airline for successfully going through the test procedure, saying “this is the celebration of a dream come true”.
Mr Selby Twumasi-Ankrah, a Director of the Ministry of Transport, noted that the commencement of AWA’s business in Ghana was a manifestation of the ministry’s policy to liberalise the aviation section to ultimately improve air transport in the country.
The airline, he stated, would go a long way to improve connection with Western and Eastern Africa, which he stated, had inadequate flight connections.
Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey, Director-General of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), said the airline had met all the rigorous processes and procedures needed to operate commercial flights in the country.
He said “they have gone through stringent requirements from the beginning to the end,” but cautioned that the GCAA would continue to monitor the activities of the airline to ensure that it met all safety regulations.
Safety, the GCAA boss stated, was very paramount to the industry and pledged that the authority would live up to its mandate to consolidate Ghana’s feat in the aviation sector.
Air Commodore Mamphey commended Togbe Afede and other owners of the airline for taking what he called, a bold step and living up to expectation.