Sunday, August 12, 2012

► GHANA: Starbow expands regionally; Antrak returns to the skies whilst CTK CiTylinK suspends operations.

Starbow AirlinesGhana's civil aviation market has started to heat up considerably ahead of the launch of two new airlines - Africa World Airlines in September (tentatively) and that of Fly540's successor FastJet in November.

This past week, Starbow Airlines (S9) took delivery of its third leased BAe146/Avro RJ from South Africa's Fair Aviation whilst launching its first regional route ex-Ghana; Cotonou, Benin which is expected to grow from its current 5x weekly frequency to a daily operation in the near future. 
"Starbow’s co-CEO Dr. Brock Friesen also revealed that, Starbow will continue adding non-stop flights to its network to other West African cities. Starbow plans to launch 5x weekly flights to Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire from 3 September. Monrovia, Liberia and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso are also among the cities that will see frequent Starbow flights in the coming weeks and months."
Source [MoneyGhana]

Starbow Airlines: Accra, Ghana - Cotonou, Benin
-Effective 13 August 2012
  • S9212 ACC1100 – 1250COO 146 x24
  • S9213 COO1400 – 1350ACC 146 x24
Source [Airline Route]

Starbow Airlines Bae146 [Click to enlarge]
Starbow Airlines Avro RJ85 (piktaker)

Fellow competitor, Fly540 Ghana has also been in on the action with the delivery of its first Embraer ERJ-170 as previously reported here by The African Aviation Tribune. The aircraft will complement the airline's lone ATR 72-500.

Meanwhile, Antrak Airlines (O4) has returned to the skies, after the suspension of operations following a fire on board its ATR42 (9G-AAB) in May, with the delivery of a wet-leased ATR72-200 (MSN# 824 | EC-KVI) from Spain's Swiftair. Prior to the incident the airline operated an exclusively Ghanaian network out of its Accra hub to Kumasi, Tamale, Sunyani and Takoradi.

Ghana Antrak Air's ATR72 EC-KVI
Antrak Air's ATR72 EC-KVI (Ricardo Torija)
Reports are also emerging to the effect that CTK CiTylinK has just recently "temporarily" suspended operations (as of today 12 August 2012, their website is refusing bookings, though that could simply be a system glitch). Strangely enough, the airline's website is still trumpeting the arrival of its Fokker 100. It is perhaps with a hint of irony that Starbow should be expanding and growing whilst CTK & Antrak have been through/are going through rough patches, as in late 2011, both CTK CiTylinK and Antrak Airlines took Starbow Airlines to court and attempted to have its operator's licence revoked over its use of a transferred Air Carrier Licence (ACL).
All in all, the next few months are going to be very interesting as the various operators fight tooth and nail for their fair share of Ghana's (and West Africa's) underutilized market which until now, has suffered from neglect. According to Airline Business magazine, "74% of intra-African routes have no more than one daily flight while around half of African city pairs are underserved, putting Starbow in a good position to fill this gap."