Air Transport World

Ghana Airways forges on despite numerous obstacles.

Accra--In the course of its 26-year history Ghana Airways has had 22 different chief executives and has been under the control of 20 different ministers/secretaries/commissioners. Instability is the only consistent factor in the airline's past.

Emerging from the break-up of West African Airways, Ghana Airways started in 1958 with a capital equivalent to $1.12 million (60% from the government of Ghana and 40% from BOAC). It had no aircraft of its own and operations were begun using a Boeing Stratocruiser wet leased from BOAC. However, the government of Kwame Nkrumah encouraged the airline to draft an ambitious equipment acquisition program involving a commitment for 19 British, Soviet and U.S. aircraft. The entire program was never implemented, but in the mid-1960s Ghana Airways was operating a dozen aircraft of a variety of types, including the Ilyushin 11-18, Vickers VC-10 and Viscount, and Douglas DC-3.

Equally ambitious was Ghana Airways' initial route program, envisaging operations to the U.S., Japan, Australia and South America. In fact in its early days the airline developed an extensive route network to points in Africa, Europe and the Middle East; Moscow was the terminus of the longest route. Improvements begun

After the deposition of Kwame Nkrumah in 1966 both the fleet and the route network shrank as did the government subsidies the company had been receiving; from 1958 to the year when subsidization was abolished--1967--Ghana Airways received the equivalent of some 20 million pounds sterling in subsidies. During those years, in the words of Frank Okyne, Ghana Airways' present managing director, "ministerial influence increased to the disadvantage of purely commercial interests." Load factors plunged to record industry lows and losses, even after subsidization, to record highs; staff morale was low. …

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