Thursday, August 8, 2013

► GHANA: ASKY Airlines eyeing a secondary hub out of Kumasi as everyone complains about Nigeria.

Ethiopian Airlines' West African subsidiary, ASKY Airlines (KP), is reportedly considering turning Kumasi, Ghana into a secondary hub through the launch of direct flights to various West African capital cities and commercial centres. The move comes as domestic Ghanaian carrier Starbow Airlines (S9) is also planning a resumption and expansion of its regional services.

In line with its strategy to link all capitals in Africa, the Lomé, Togo-based carrier is choosing regional over domestic routes with initial destinations to include Abidjan and Ouagadougou. In an interview with Dominick Andoh, Mr. Busera Awel, the Chief Executive Officer of ASKY Airlines, said:
We are not going to operate domestic flights but rather regional flights out of Kumasi. The domestic routes are already well-served and we want to give passengers another alternative. We are planning to fly from Kumasi to regional destinations like Abidjan, Ouagadougou and many others,” he said.

Very soon the airport will be ready for operations. It [flying directly from Kumasi to other West Africa Countries] was part of our 2015 plan. But very soon the airport will be ready and we will fit it into our plans. It’s easy [to operate from Kumasi to other W/A destinations]. It doesn’t need a lot of investment.
The Ghana Airport Company states that Kumasi is currently undergoing rehabilitation and repairs to its terminal and its runway with improvements to the tune of USD173million.

Meanwhile, Ghanaian carrier, Starbow Airlines says it will resume flights to Cotonou and Abidjan but only when "market dynamics are right." According to Mr. Sukhjinder Mann, the Chief Finance Officer at Stabow, the airline is committed to the regional market but the resumption "will depend on timing and financial risk management." 

Starbow is also amongst the contenders for a possible Accra - Lagos - Accra route launch but which, however, is still pending the necessary approval by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority. Africa World Airlines (AW), Antrak Air (O4) and Fly540 Ghana(5G) have all announced plans to begin flights to Nigeria, but claim their moves have so far been blocked by the Nigerian authorities.

Gambia Bird (3G) has also decried Nigeria's lack of cooperation in granting airlines rights to the city of Lagos. Chief Commercial Officer Karsten Balke in March stated that his airline has yet to gain traffic rights for the city some eight months after requesting access, despite the Banjul Accord – to which Nigeria is a signatory – enshrining the relevant bilateral agreement.
We planned four frequencies a week to Lagos early on, and since then we are just waiting, waiting, waiting,” complains Balke. Describing Nigeria as “the biggest market in the West African region”, he questions why the country’s flag carrier, Arik Air, is afforded a monopoly on the Banjul-Lagos route. “They are flying here, but we cannot fly over there … Having this unfair competition will have a major impact,” he warns. Plans for an onward connection to Douala, Cameroon are on hold until Lagos is operational.