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General News of Monday, 17 September 2001

Source: Public Agenda

Airways to Go to Court

Passengers who boarded Ghanair flight GH 731 from London to Accra on July 12 will soon drag the debt-ridden national airline, Ghana Airways, to court over its failure to resolve complaints brought against it.

A spokesman of passengers on that flight, David Ayine told Public Agenda on Wednesday that they have started legal action against Ghana Airways. The case is expected to be in court this week.

Ayine, chairman of the UK chapter of the Ghana Human Rights Committee said the legal action is a response to Ghanair management's failure to address the demands of the aggrieved passengers.

The passengers had asked the airline to explain the delay, publicly apologise and compensate them for the ordeal Ghanair subjected them to. Ghanair delayed the flight in question at London's Heathrow Airport for five hours without any explanation.

No official explanation was offered during the ordeal while attempts by the passengers to get an explanation drew insults and contempt, Ayine told this paper a few days after their ordeal. Another passenger on board the flight, Kwame Appiah, corroborated his story.

Two of the five hours were spent in the plane with its engine switched off.

Public Agenda reported in its July 30 - August 5 edition of the ordeal that the passengers, many of whom were coming to participate in the homecoming summit, were subjected to.

While in the plane about 200 passengers appended their signatures to a petition stating their demands to the airline's management.

Following the report in Public Agenda, the Performance and Monitoring Manager of Ghana Airways, JAK Danso-Quayson wrote to Ayine, offering a lame excuse for what happened on the flight.

"The new Ghana Airways management has realised that providing real time information on flights and announcing delays and cancellations to passengers have not been our strong points", Danso-Quayson's letter dated August 1st said.

It further said that the airline had requested a report on the incident from its London office.

But two months later, the airline says it has not received the report from the London office.

Ayine fired a fiery response to Danso-Quayson's letter expressing his outrage and disappointment with the attitude of Ghanair's management to their concerns.

"I consider the lack of apology in your acknowledgment letter to the signed petition and supporting account of passengers of flight GH 731 from LHR to Accra on 12/07/01 as a demonstration of contempt and arrogance to the highest degree and above all, disrespect and disregard for the feelings and experience of passengers of flight GH 731" Ayine said.

A meeting between the airline and the aggrieved passengers ended in a disaster. Ayine accused Danso Quayson of unprofessionalism and incompetence.

"I say this for the fact that there was no agenda set either prior or on the day of the meeting and discussions were conducted in an informal way. The shocking part of the meeting was the fact that you told the meeting that you had not yet got any response from your London office," Ayine charged in a letter dated August 21st.

Complaints from clients of the national airline have become commonplace. Passengers complain of shabby in flight service, over-booking and undue delays without any explanations or apology.