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Opinions of Sunday, 15 May 2005

Columnist: Agyei, Joe

"Ghana Airways is DEAD!" - A Rejoinder

I couldn't contain my joy when I read your headline "Ghana Airways is DEAD!", however, I felt cheated and let down after I read the entire article. I don't know if you have ever flew on Ghana Airways, or been in the unfortunate position of meeting someone travelling on Ghana Airways. This airline has never been "the country's pride in the Air", rather it has always been an embarrasement to the nation. It had no appreciation for time, its workers were thieves and bribe takers, it had poor management, the only good thing about the airline was the quality of its pilots and engineers. Do not shed any tears for the employees of the collapsed airline. Indeed it is my prayer that none of them ever get a government job. They deserve to be hungry. Indeed the GIA deal is not in the best interest of the country, however, it beats the constant losses incurred by Ghana Airways over the years.

The Kuffour administration did not kill Ghana Airways, neither di it accumulate the debt of the carrier. The airline was in debt before the NPP government, and it had always operated at a loss. When Rawlings first came into power, he raised the ticket price from Accra to London from ?6,000.00 to ?90,000.00 in an attempt to stabilize the company. Yet when after bailing out the company several times, it was still in debt when the NDC left office. As every serious businessman knows, you have to cut your losses at a certain point, and move onto other ventures.

I first flew Ghana Airways from Accra to Abidjan via Kumasi in 1977 - the flight was cancelled two days in a row before we finally boarded the plane. Of course it was late to depart on our return trip home some three month later. Like most Ghanaians my family continued to fly on our national carrier, even when the service was bad, and they constantly seated passengers who paid in foreign currencies ahead of those of us who paid in cedis. Things got so bad that in the early 80s my family stop flying Ghana Airways - we switch to Swiss Air and BCal (now British Airways). I have never flown with Ghana Airways since 1984 because of it's poor arrival and departure records, poor customer service, and rude air hostesses. So I know what I'm talking about when I say that the tax payers of Ghana cannot continue to sunsidize these criminals at Ghana Airways.

There have been several occassions when I will walk straight to the counter of the foreign airline that I was travelling with whiles Ghana Airways passengers will be in a long que, not knowing when their plane will arrive, let alone take them to their destiniation. They management and staff had no appreciation for time, or the meaning of a scheduled flight. Neither did they arrive or depart on time - this was the case before, during and after the NDC - Ghana Airways' problems is not political. It is the results of poor management, dishonest staff, and the few "business people" who encouraged the criminal activities of the staff.

The staff used to pocket excess baggage fees, and purchased tickets at discounts for their friends - when this previlige was reserved for employees use only. I was shocked to learn at the Baltimore Airport that Ghana Airways did not accept credit cards, it accepted only cash for tickets and excess luggage. Credit card payments go directly to the company's account so the counter staff cannot mess with the payments. They did not accept credit cards because that will interfere with their motive to steal from the comapny. I feel no pain for the Ghana Airways staff.

In light of the lack of professional attitude of the management and staff of Ghana Airways, the never ending losses, and the fact that they sat down and allowed their license to operate in the US to expire, after repeated warnings, the government had to stop the breeding and dissolve the company. Once the government pays off the roughtly $200 million debt, it should not engage in operating an airline company. The country can invest in new airline, but it must contract with an already established company to manage the day to day affairs of the airline.

GHANA AIRWAYS DESERVES TO DIE!!!!!!!!!



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