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Business News of Saturday, 22 May 2021


Unbridled 5th Freedoms sinking regional carriers - Aviation expert

Kwaku Ofori-Asiamah, Minister of Transport Kwaku Ofori-Asiamah, Minister of Transport

Regional airlines in West Africa face an uphill task in meeting their target in order to remain competitive, due to the increasing rate of 5th Freedoms granted to large foreign airlines who fly into the region.

Fifth Freedom Rights refers to the right to carry passengers from one’s own country to a second country, and from that country onward to a third country.

In Ghana, some international airlines based in Europe and the Middle East exercise such freedoms and are able to operate flights to a third country within the sub-region after landing in Accra.

Micheline Yahot, Country Manager of Air Cote D’Ivoire says this is inimical to the interest of regional carries. “Fifth (5th) Freedom is meant for regional carriers. We have to open our sky but we shouldn’t open our skies at all cost. We have to open with some fair competition with the others who come and operate in our sky. You come into our sky with the respect of our sky.

“So sometimes it is unacceptable to have some [foreign] carriers, who are cheapest with more availability than regional carriers, competing with us on our routes where we get our revenue. It is killing regional carriers and it shouldn’t be done this way.”

In Ghana, as part of efforts to make the country an aviation hub in the sub-region, government has promised more support for airlines, including the granting of 5th Freedom Rights to expand routes to and from Accra.

“We assure you that government, through the Ministry of Transport will offer all stakeholders the needed support including the use of 5th Freedom Rights to expand routes to and from Accra. In so doing, this will ensure the realization of government vision of making Accra the preferred aviation hub in the West Africa sub-region,” Mr. Asiamah, speaking through Alhaji Amin Abdul-Rahman, the Director for Finance and Administration of the Ministry of Transport, said at a recent event held to welcome United Airlines back to Accra after nine years.

Ms. Yahot, however, disagrees stating that: “If I allow you to be a guest in my house, I shouldn’t end up being the one sleeping on the streets. But this is what is happening now. We are competing with some giant airlines on some regional routes, where it is the only way for regional carriers to get their daily bread; it is unfair.”