Saturday, July 25, 2015

EU lifts ban on Ghanaian airlines

The European Union Commission in charge of air safety has lifted a nine-year ban imposed on Ghanaian registered carriers from operating flights within the Union, following a petition by the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

The lifting of the ban means that Ghanaian-registered operators are now able to operate flights from Accra to Europe and in-between EU countries.

Acting Deputy Director General Technical, of the GCAA Martey Boye Atoklo said "the lifting of the ban is good news for us. It means that Ghanaian-registered carriers are now able to operate from here to the EU and within the EU".

In March 2006, the EU Air Safety Committee placed an operating ban on two Ghanaian registered air carriers - Meridian Airways and Airlift International - thus banning any locally-registered air carrier from operating in the European Union region, due largely to safety concerns.

The EU, in a letter dated June 25, 2015 addressed to the GCAA, said the EU Air Safety List Committee in following the proposal of the Commission in accordance with common criteria set out in the Annex to Regulation (EC) 211/2205, agreed that the Union list of air carriers which are subject to an operating ban within the Union should be amended to remove the two banned Ghanaian- registered carriers.

By the action, no Ghanaian air carrier is recorded on the EU Air Safety operating ban-list.

"The Commission was able to make a proposal to the EU Air Safety Committee resulting in a positive decision because of the technical intervention the GCAA had provided prior to and at the technical meeting of March 17, 2015," the EU said in statement.

The GCAA, following lifting of the ban, has further suspended the issuance of licences for offshore air operations.

"We have now banned offshore operations. We want operators to be based here, so that we can properly supervise them and ensure that they meet all the necessary safety and regulatory requirements."

Offshore air carriers were hitherto issued licences by the GCAA and were allowed to operate offshore in the EU. But recent events have led to the GCAA placing a total ban on off-shore operations. Meridian Airways and Airlift International, the only two Ghanaian-registered offshore carriers, are now defunct.

The GCAA has issued an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) to Unicorn Air Chartered Services, a subsidiary of UHI Holdings, to operate chartered service in- country and abroad. This follows the acquisition of an Air Carrier Licence last year.

Director-General of the GCAA, Abdullai Alhassan, said "we have taken them through all the five stages involved in the granting of the AOC. We started the process in September last year. We will be monitoring to ensure the regulations are fully complied with. Sustainability of the licence is more difficult. We encourage you to work hard to sustain it".

Managing Director of Unicorn Air Chartered Services, Philip Ayisa, the said "we will abide by all the rules governing the aviation industry in this country. Our aircraft is ready, our staff is ready. Our doors are now open and we will treat our clients like royals.

"What we want to do is a pure executive charter. The pilots are ready. The aircraft, an HS125-800 XP, is parked. It is an eight-seater with eight executive seats. Because it is a charter, it is much easier for clients so you don't have to wait for hours before you leave. You can come and in five minutes you are gone. You go through the VIP area and your luggage is screened just like any other passenger.

"We have been certified to go worldwide, with the only limitations being insurance and if the country has a conflict with Ghana. We can go anywhere. We are prepared to go anywhere provided the client requests. We have sister- companies that can supply us with bigger aircraft upon request."

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