Africa World Airlines goes regional

Africa World Airlines (AWA), one of the reputable and fastest growing airlines in Ghana will from November this year extend its routes into the West African sub-region. The inaugural flight to Lagos would be in November to be followed by that of Abuja and Freetown in December. Mr Apiigy Afenu, AWA Chief Operations Officer (COO), who made the disclosure in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Thursday, noted that, internally, the Airline has 15 per cent of the aviation market share, and performing very creditably and this had propelled it into the regional level. He said AWA is certified to undertake both local and regional flights and the regional route would be extended to Monrovia, Dakar and Banjul in 2014. He said they are currently operating three flying hours daily, which would be extended to seven hours when the regional level becomes operational and gradually build up to 10 flying hours. The COO bemoaned the state of infrastructure of airports in Ghana and urged the authorities to take urgent steps to repair and restore them. He said the runways at the Kumasi and Tamale Airports were in deplorable state and had no lights, a situation that had forced most domestic airlines to reduce their number of flying hours. Mr Afenu said the Ghana Airport Company (GAC) was always imposing heavy levies on Airlines, such as insurance on vehicles of Airlines which goes on the tarmac, saying that, all these go a long way to hinder government’s efforts at making Ghana the industrial hub of aviation in Africa. He urged the GAC to see airline companies as partners in the aviation industry. Mr Afenu said the fuel component of the operating cost of the airline was about 40 per cent, adding that, although government had subsidized aviation fuel by 20 per cent, he was of the wish that more could be done for the airlines. He appealed to government for tax breaks for the aviation industry so that airlines, which record losses, would be allowed to carry forward their tax liabilities until they return to profit. He suggested a common agreement among the airlines so that in an event of a particular airline’s inability to transport its customers, another airline could do it at the same cost. “We want to compete with others but not at the detriment of our fellow competitors,” he said. Mr Afenu urged the travelling public in the sub-region to visit their offices for more information on their flight schedules and adding that it would not be long before they start witnessing drops in flight fares.