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Business News of Saturday, 22 September 2012

Source: GNA

SSNIT injects 3-4 million dollars into Africa World Airlines

The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) says it has injected between three and four million dollars into a new airline, Africa World Airline (AWA), set to serve the domestic and regional air travel industry.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency at the end of the launch of the airline in Accra, Dr. Frank Odoom, Director- General of SSNIT, said management had found it prudent to diversify the investment portfolio of the Trust and to venture into the prospective aviation industry.

He said the Trust was optimistic that investment in the aviation industry was a viable one that would fetch the needed returns.

According to Dr. Odoom, “The aviation is an area worth investing and we see more opportunities for AWA.”

Other shareholders in AWA include SAS Finance Group, HNA Aviation Holdings-China and China-Africa Development Fund (CADFUND).

AWA, which is entering the industry as the fifth domestic airline commences their operations with the initial capital investment of 30-40 million dollars.

The airline has two Embraer ERJ-145LR jets and it is expected to increase the fleet as market demand for the service soars.

It is expected to operate in Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale, starting from Friday 21st, September 2012.

Togbe Afede IV, founder of AWA, earlier at the launch, said the involvement of SSNIT, as a shareholder in the airline, was very significant adding that it made it a Ghanaian airline that would fly the national colours.

He called on all stakeholders and Ghanaians to work with management to achieve their aim of making air travel a viable option for the majority of Ghanaians.

Togbe Afede IV expressed optimism that the airline would build its strength on three main factors, namely; safety, reliability and efficiency.

“We intend our growth to mirror that of HNA, which currently has a fleet of about 400 aircrafts,” he added.

Madam Akua Sena Dansua, Minister of Tourism, underscored the socio-economic importance of the aviation industry adding that air travel was a critical component of the tourism industry.

She called on the Chinese investors to spread their tentacles to other areas in the tourism industry

Mr. Gong Jianzhong, Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, described the launch as a milestone in China-Africa cooperation, saying “it is a bridge that shortens the distance between China and Ghana.

He noted that Accra was becoming a logistic hub in the West African sub-region and that the participation of competent shareholders in AWA would play an important role in promoting Ghana as hub for aviation.

He pledged the Chinese government’s commitment towards strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.

Mr. Chi Jianxin, Chief Executive Officer of CADFUND, said management of the Fund had observed that the aviation industry in Ghana was worth investing in.

He cited the stable political climate, economic growth and the country’s democratic credential as other motivating factors.