The Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in Accra is arguable one of the best and busiest airports in Africa. The KIA, which is currently managed by Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), a public company incorporated in 2007 under the Ghana Companies’ Act 1963, hosted as many as 1,428,424 passengers in 2010.
This figure has been projected to hit 1,710,884 at the end of this year. This represents an annual growth rate of 30% and 20% respectively.
A document prepared by the Ghana Airport Company, and sighted by The Chronicle, also indicates that the company raked in as much as $33,800,184 as revenue in 2010. Management has estimated that the figure would hit $53,392,375 by the end of December this year.
Despite what appears to be a windfall in the operations of the Airport, the GACL, an offshoot of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, still owes the Ghana Meteorological Agency $2 million. The debt, which spans a period of five years, is said to have crippled operations of the Meteorological Agency.
The Agency provides essential services for the smooth operations of the KIA. The department, for instance, provides the air controllers with data regarding the weather pattern, who, in turn, release it to the airlines heading towards Ghana to ensure safe landing and take-off.
Already, there are reports that the Meteorological Agency is threatening to withdraw its services, should the GACL refuse to pay the debt. Connoisseurs of the industry who spoke to The Chronicle warned that should the weather forecasters carry out their threat and suspend their services, operations at the airport would come to a halt.
The airport would also be downgraded by the international aviation, whilst international airlines such as Air Alitalia, British Airways, Virgin, Lufthansa, Turkish Air, Ethiopian Airlines, KLM and a host of others flying to Ghana would suspend their operations, making it impossible for travelers to move in and out of the country.
The Director-General of the Ghana Meteorological Agency, Group Captain Stephen Komla (rtd), told The Chronicle in a telephone interview yesterday, that even though the Ghana Airport Company owed them over $2 million, his outfit had no intention of suspending its services, knowing the implications it would bring to bear on the economy.
According to him, when it comes to the worst, they would only proceed to court instead of withdrawing their services. He admitted that the withdrawal of their services would lead to the downgrading of the KIA, whilst the international airlines would also suspend their operations in the country.
Apart from this, exporters of horticultural products like pineapple, pawpaw and others would also suffer, because there would be no airlines to lift them. Group Captain Stephen Komla further told The Chronicle that the Communication Ministry, which has oversight responsibility for the Agency and her transport counterpart, which also oversees operations of the Ghana Airport Company, are dialoguing on how to settle the indebtedness.
According to him after persistent demands, the GACL settled only $50,000 of the indebtedness in 2008, and has since refused to pay the rest, which is a percentage of the landing fees the airport company collects from the airlines using the airport.
During a recent meeting workers of the Agency had with the Minister of Communication, Dr. Omane Boamah, Group Captain Komla bemoaned that over 60 per cent of his outfit’s internally generated funds was lost annually, as stakeholders failed to pay for the services rendered them.
According to him, though every airport in Ghana was supposed to have five weather forecasters, due to lack of funds to train personnel, the Kumasi, Takoradi, Sunyani and Tamale airports have no forecasters, which is very dangerous.
Source: The Chronicle
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