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Opinions of Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Columnist: Daily Guide

What a shame!

Patrons of domestic flights are not yet out of the woods. They do not know when normalcy would be restored to the troubled local schedules.

Their predicament comes nowhere near owners of the airlines who have to contend with the cost of fixed costs as in salaries of staff and related expenditure for the maintenance of their aircraft, which have been grounded anyway.

Ghanaians must now be used to being told about grounded flights by individual airlines – the action now an annual routine when the North East Trade Winds blow across the country from the north leaving in its trail visibility-impairing dust.

It is instructive though that while domestic flights are unable to operate their foreign counterparts are not at all inhibited by the weather anomaly.

Such matters being technical and therefore beyond our ken, we nonetheless can risk an answer to the seeming poser about why foreign airlines are not scathed by the worrying weather. Isn’t it about modernising equipment at the individual airports across the country?

We would have thought that given the amount of money being quoted for the upgrading of selected airports in the country, with the Kumasi facility said to have been elevated to the status of an international airport, vagaries of the weather should have been pushed to the backburners.

Speaking to Engineer Mohammed Abubakar, an aircraft engineer with many years experience in the aviation industry – some with the defunct Ghana Airways Corporation – he said it is all about the absence of the necessary equipment on the ground.

Pilots, he said, should in consonance with international standards be able to see the ground from a certain altitude, failing which they should not fly. The necessary Instrument Landing Systems (ILSs) are not available at the Tamale and the Kumasi airports; thus, the decision by the domestic airlines not to fly until the hazy weather gives way to clear skies.

In all these, therefore, we are left with no option but to rebuke the managers of our aviation industry which over the years should have raised the level of the aforementioned airports to real international standards, modern ILS, et al.

We do not seek by these remarks to state that the airlines have acted wrongly, far from it; all they have done is taken necessary precautionary action to obviate any untoward development. Their joint action has been informed by the absence of gadgets which should have been in place at this age of our aviation history.

It is regretful that worst weather conditions in some parts of the world do not lead to such actions as being witnessed in a country which pretends to be modern.

Quoting huge amounts of money as cost of upgrading airports by government is appearing to sound like the routine propaganda we are now used to hearing.