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Fifi Kwetey: New national Airline ‘promising’

Things are looking promising for the new national airline and it could come on board by the end of the year, Transport Minister Fifi Kwetey has said.

“We are very much on course, we needed to allow the transnational advisers [Pricewaterhouse Coopers] to give us the totality of the picture, which I will say we are virtually almost there now…it’s looking very promising,” he told the media in an interview Monday April 11 at the Kotoka International Airport on the sidelines of the inauguration of a fuel terminal built by Puma Energy.

Meanwhile the Republic of Ghana will not take up any equity in the new national airline in the offing, Deputy Minister of Transport Joyce Bawah-Mogtari said on Thursday March 24 on Class91.3fm.

Ghana Airways became Ghana International Airlines in 2004, with the Government of Ghana owning 70% shares, and a U.S. consortium, GIA-USA, owning 30% of the airline. Bitter legal rivalry between the shareholders, since 2006, eventually led to the collapse of the airline. GIA’s problems were worsened by the withdrawal of subventions by the Government of Ghana and the eventual suspension of its operations by the majority shareholder. The airline declared bankruptcy in July 2010.

The Government of Ghana, at the time, said embezzlement of ticket sales by management of the national carrier, was to blame for the suspension of operations. Head of Cost and Accounting at GIA at the time John Oduro told the media in mid-July that GIA employees had not been paid since April 2010. “What has really worsened our situation has been the withdrawal of government support for the company on May 7, 2010. We had our last flight on May 7 and since then, the Aircraft has been withdrawn because government could not commit itself to the extension of the work-lift arrangement we had with Astraus Air.”

Mr Oduro revealed that due to the absence of the aircraft, the company had about 9,000 passengers stranded in Ghana, and several others in London and New York. He said GIA spent close to 120,000 dollars on hotel bills for the stranded passengers in Accra alone. The airline had to refund monies to all the stranded passengers eventually. Mr Oduro said at the time that it would be a total waste of the taxpayer’s money for a company that owed the nation close to 64 million dollars at the time to collapse.

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