By Dominick Andoh

Togbe Afede XVI, the chairman of Africa World Airlines (AWA) — a regional and domestic operator — and the President of the Asogli State, says the airline is in discussions with the Ministry of Transport to partner government in the establishment of a new national carrier.

?We have been talking and we are very confident that we will offer the government the best option. At the right time, it will come to pass that we will be partners to government,? he said.

?We will be very happy to partner the government to carry the flag of Ghana. We have all that the government needs — technical ability, financial capacity, and of course the desire to integrate the countries of West Africa and connect the region to the rest of the world.?

Government has proposed the establishment of a new national carrier and has subsequently engaged a transactional advisor to advise it on the modalities and the choice of a partner for venture.

The plan has been severely criticised after the failure of Ghana Airways and Ghana International Airlines. Alhaji Asuma Banda, chairman of Antrak Airlines, the local carrier, has threatened court action if government decides to go ahead with the proposal.

However, Togbe Afede XVI believes that government doesn?t have the resources to solely run a national airline and therefore needs a partner, preferably a local operator. ?Maybe it?s better for the Ghana government to link up with us. Ghana has tried a couple of times on its own and failed. I don?t think it will be a good decision for Ghana to want to try it again alone.

?Since the demise of Ghana Airways, no airline presently in Ghana has been able to fly to Nigeria, so for us it?s a very great achievement, particularly coming not long after the launch of our domestic operations,? he said.

Africa World Airlines is a joint venture between the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Strategic African Securities, China-Africa Development Fund, and Hainan Airlines of China, one of the few five-star airlines in the world.

The airline currently operates three Embraer ERJ 145LR aircraft that can seat 50 passengers. Its partner Hainan Airlines provides technical support.

The commencement of the airline?s regional operations this week, follows the acquisition of an operating permit to operate flights from Accra to four destinations in Nigeria namely: Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano.

?We have set out to be a regional operator. We want to establish a hub and bespoke operations that will link up all of West Africa. But, of course, we expect to take West Africans outside of the sub-region as well. So for us, it is the beginning of the realisation of our objective of supporting African integration.?

The airline will operate two daily flights from Accra to Lagos; one in the morning and one flight in the evening.

He added: ?We expect that we will launch our Brazilian operations before the end of the first quarter of next year. We have plans to go to Europe and China. I don?t think the government can have a better partner than AWA.?

The airline is expected to acquire two A319 in the first quarter of next year prior to its South American operations.

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