Following the collapse of Ghana Airways and Ghana International Airlines (GIA), Ghanaians have long sought for a national carrier that will restore our national pride and fly our national flag around the world.
Thus, it was with much joy that I received the news in 2019 that Ghana had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Ethiopian Airlines for the establishment of a new flag carrier. However earlier this week, I learnt with utter dismay that Ghana had signed another deal with Egypt Air to replace Ethiopian because of disagreements over key issues such as routes, funding and tenure of management contract among others.
Given the way the GIA experiment was handled and as a citizen of Ghana, I wish to express my humble opinions to make the new national airline work for good this time round for posterity sake.
For the records, Egypt Air has the following attributes going for them:
- It has been in existence since 1933 so they have shown capacity to withstand World War 2, harsh economic turmoil and rising oil prices.
- They are rated as a 3-star airline by Skytrax.
- They serve some 75 destinations including Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asia and North America.
- They have a fleet size of 81 aircraft with a modern mix like the Airbus A220, Airbus A320, A330, Boeing 737, Boeing 777, Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Embraer ERJ-170 among others.
- They are part of the Star Alliance network which includes Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Air Canada and United Airlines to mention a few. This means that our partnership with them opens code sharing agreements immediately with these world class names
- They handled over 9 million passengers in 2018
- In 2018, they made profits of approx. USD 60.5million.
- They have over 9000 employees
- They have a good safety record generally speaking
Ethiopian on the other hand has the following in their favor:
- They have been in existence since 1945 meaning they have the capacity to withstand harsh economic turmoil and rising oil prices.
- They are one of the very few CONSISTENT profitable airlines in Africa. In 2018, they made profits of USD 245million. This year, many airlines have struggled and gone for government bailouts, but not Ethiopian! They are only part of a few airlines like Korean Air and Asiana that have made profits so far in a turbulent 2020.
- They are rated as a 4-star airline by Skytrax.
- They are part of the Star Alliance network which includes Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Air Canada and United Airlines to mention a few. This means that our partnership with them opens code sharing agreements immediately with these world class names.
- They are the ONLY viable state run airline in Africa for decades!
- They have a modern fleet of 129 aircraft including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Boeing 777, Boeing 737 Max, Bombardier Dash 8 and Airbus A350XWB. They also operate strong freighter/cargo services.
- They were the first airline in Africa to operate the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350. This means they are technology savvy.
- They fly to over 127 destinations in Africa, Middle East, Europe, Asia and the Americas giving Ghanaians the varied scope we desire.
- They handled over 10.6 million passengers in 2018
- They have a well thought out strategy that aims at creating hubs to make travel within Africa easy. They have minority stakes currently in Asky Airlines-Togo and Malawi. Airlines arrangements are in place to do same for Guinea, Chad and Mozambique. In August this year, they unveiled a brand new passenger terminal at Bole International Airport equipped with 60 check-in counters and 30 self-check –in kiosks amidst COVID-19 pandemic!
- They were the first airline to parade an all -female crew. Overall staff strength stands at approx. 14,000.
- They have a good safety record generally speaking.
Looking at the above statistics, it is crystal clear that overall Ethiopian stands tall over Egypt Air in terms of:
- Airline ratings
- Fleet size and sophistication
- Efficiency and profitability because they have consistently recorded profits and growth
- Passenger numbers because of fleet and hub size
- Destinations served
- Capacity to run other airlines because they have done it with Asky Airlines
In spite of COVID-19, travel has started gradually picking up. In Africa, Qatar Airways has purchased 49% of loss-making RwandAir making it a serious future competitor on the African landscape. This calls for Ghana to partner an equally well resourced and vastly experienced partner like Ethiopian (in my view) to counter future competition. Ethiopian still remained profitable this year in spite of COVID-19 because they quickly adapted and shifted focus to cargo immediately passenger throughput declined. Whatever issues Ghana has with Ethiopian on funding, management contract and routes needs to be quickly resolved “IN THE BEST INTEREST OF BOTH PARTIES”.
The late Leonardo Da Vinci (Italian artist) once said “wisdom is the daughter of experience”. This definitely sums up the pedigree of Ethiopian. We cannot afford another mistake again. Wisdom tells us to give the business to arguably the masters of the African skies-ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES!