Africa World Airline, a joint Venture between the Social Security and National Insurance Trust, the Strategic African Securities (ASA), both of Ghana, and Hainan Airlines of China, is set to take to the skies on September 21.

Taking off with an initial complement of two aircraft, the airline, a 50 million-dollar enterprise with a 24-city business plan, will go regional from take off, combining domestic operations with fights to the West coast.

Its destinations include Ouagadougou, Abidjan, Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Conakry, Dakar, Banjul and expanding with time, to Johannesburg, Harare, Entebbe and Luanda, with a final complement of 10 planes.

In five years, it aspires to fly destinations outside Africa.

At a dinner in Accra to welcome the airline’s top Zhang, the Chief Executive, Shi Cheng, the Operations Executive and Sunny Sun, Finance Manager, Togbe Afede XIV, Agbogbomefia of Asogli State and CEO of SAS Finance Group, said the new airline was determined to end the era of frustrations when flights from Accra to some African capitals took more than 20 hours because of the circuitous nature of the route, when the same journey could be done in six hour with a direct flight.

"To go to Cape Verde from Accra, one has to fly to Lisbon in Portugal. In some cases, you take off from Accra, fly to Europe and catch a connecting flight which will see you flying over Accra to get to your destination within Africa. Even worse are flights to the west coast. To go to Ndjamena, Chad for instance, the fastest is to go through Europe because there is no direct flight from Accra. In instances where there are flights, these are not daily.

"What it means is that if you have a conference in those countries, you have to arrive two days in advance of the meeting an expensive proposition.’’

Togbe Afede thanked the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the Ghana Airports Company Limited for the ‘’phenomenal support throughout the tough, but interesting journey of African World Airlines’’.

The Director General of GCAA, Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey, mentioned the authority’s determination to get Ghanaian airlines to enter the regional routes aggressively.

"With this, we shall end the era when to pick Ghanaians stranded in Libya, for instance, we had to hire an aircraft from the international market, with its attendants delays and frustrations.’’

Advising that ‘’competition does not mean exclusion.’’ The Director-General urged the growing number of operators on the domestic route to co-operate to make domestic air travel a joy for Ghanaians.

"I want you to see yourselves as marking the domestic route together. On a day when one airline’s plane has developed a fault, for example, its passengers don’t have to cancel their journey it should be possible, through inter-line agreements, for Starbow to fly Antrak passengers, or for Antrak to fly Starbow, Fly 540 or CitiLink passengers.

If we don’t do that, the passengers will lose confidence in air domestic travel.’’

Present at the dinner were the Minister of Transport, Mr Collins Dauda, and the Director General of SSNIT, Dr Frank Odoom.

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