Business News of Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Source: Daily Graphic

Kotoka Airport Upgrade Ready In 3yrs

The Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Airports Company Limited, Mrs Doreen Owusu Fianko, has said the expansion works at the Kotoka International Airport will be completed in two and a half years to upgrade with modern facilities.

She said new parking lots were being constructed to take in more aircraft, aerobridges would be constructed with new baggage handling equipment.

The expansion and upgrading has becopme necessary as the air traffic flow into the country has increased by over 200 per cent over the last 0 years.

“We are seriously working on expansion and regeneration of the airport to be able to enhance facilities and handle such new generation aircraft. Within two and a half years we should be seeing a brand-new state-of-the-art airport,” Mrs Fianko told the Daily Graphic at the weekend.

This was in an interview shortly after Ethiopian Airlines new aircraft, the much-awaited Boeing 787 Dreamliner, touted the world’s most technologically advanced commercial aircraft, touched down at the airport at about 11 a.m. at the weekend.

“There will be huge check-in, departure and arrival terminals, arrival lounges, bigger and more shopping area, aerobridges and a large waiting area for people to bond with their families before they travel,”Mrs Fianko explained.

Ethiopian Airlines took delivery of its first out of 10 Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner aircraft, christened “Africa First”, about a fortnight ago. Its arrival in Ghana signifies the country as an important destination for business and tourism.

Ethiopian Airlines is the first operator in Africa to have taken delivery of the aircraft which has improved comfort, aero-dynamics and less expensive to operate. The airline is also among

the first in the world, only after Japan and the United States, the origin of the aircraft, to receive the Boeing aircraft.

Mrs Fianko said the choice of Accra as one of the initial destinations for “Africa First” was a show of belief in the country, saying although the airport was relatively smaller, it had world class services to handle such a technologically advanced aircraft.

The Ghana Country Manager for Ethiopian Airlines, Mr Michael Yared, told the Daily Graphic that ET had been a pioneer in Africa and it was natural that we pioneer this also, saying the new aircraft would enable the airline to meet the growing competition in the market.

He assured customers and passengers that with such large aircraft, its customers could connect to 71 destinations, with Sao Paulo coming at the end of October, adding that being a member of Star Alliance,

“We are very much grateful to Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), they have always been supportive and we have not had any problem operating from Ghana. We always feel at home in Ghana,” Mr Yared said.

He, however, pleaded to authorities to watch the rising cost of aviation fuel which made flying into Ghana a little more expensive than other peer destinations.

On customer satisfaction, he said they deserved value for money and with the new aircraft, services would also be matched, “although our services are already of excellence”.

Mr Yared said the airline understood the unique kind of on-board service demanded by Ghanaian customers and that “we are working hard to meet that”.

The Dreamliner aircraft has been built to enhance fuel efficiency and reduce operating cost by about 30 per cent.

With the delivery, Ethiopian Airlines becomes the first in the world outside Japan and ahead of any airline in the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, to operate the most technologically advanced commercial aircraft in the world.

The Airline has placed a firm order for 10 of the Dreamliners and will be receiving five of them before December 2012.

A frequent flyer on Ethiopian, Mr Bismark Yaw Frempong, a businessman at Accra Tudu, said the arrival of the aircraft would enhance safety and comfort in the air, especially for passengers like him who travelled to the Far East almost every two weeks.

Another passenger, who was on board the inaugural flight from Addis Ababa, said he like the flying experience which came with little bumps of turbulence.