THE Deputy Minister for Transport, Mr Hassan Tampuli, has commended the Board and Management of Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) for gradually steering the company out of financial challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He made the comments at the 8th Annual General Meeting of GACL held at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).
Mr Tampuli, who represented the Minister for Transport, Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, said the Ministry had made several interventions, including the review of the Domestic Airport Passenger Service Charge (APSC), to ease the financial burden on GACL.
He noted that the infrastructure developments being undertaken at the Regional Airports was enough justification for pursuing the review and would relieve Kotoka International Airport (KIA) of the burden of subsidising the regional airports.
He further touched on measures instituted by the Vice President of the Republic, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia in collaboration with the Economic Management team to streamline the Departure and Arrival Facilitation Processes to improve KIA’s competitiveness in the sub-region.
Presenting the 2021 Annual Report, the Board Chairman, Mr Paul Adom-Otchere, citing statistics from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), disclosed that Global Passenger Traffic recovered modestly in 2021, with the ICAO impact analysis of COVID-19 on Civil Aviation revealing that the number of passengers worldwide was 2.3billion or 49per cent below pre-pandemic (2019) levels, up from the 60% drop witnessed in 2020.
He stated that ICAO further reported a decrease in the rate of global air traffic recovery in the first quarter of 2021 due to the sharp spike of COVID-19 infection. The situation stabilized slightly in the second and third quarter mainly due to rising vaccination rates and the lifting of travel restrictions in various parts of the world during the peak travel season. However, this upward trend stalled quickly in the fourth quarter with the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Mr Adom-Otchere indicated that in Ghana, Air Traffic Movements in 2021 exceeded that of 2020 by 50.4% after the Government of Ghana eased travel restrictions and reopened the country’s borders for flight operations in 2021. Air traffic movements for both international and domestic showed strong growth with international growing at 53.9% and domestic grew at 46.1%.
He touched on the industrial relations climate indicating that it had remained relatively calm and peaceful as a result of deliberate and proactive steps taken by Management to resolve staff-related challenges.
Addressing the meeting, Managing Director of GACL, Madam Pamela Djamson-Tettey, commended staff for their resilience and exemplary workmanship throughout the business recovery process following the overwhelming and unparalleled effect of COVID-19 and the ensuing travel restrictions on airports.
She gave an overview of the Air Traffic Performance attributing the leap in variance for Air Traffic Movements for both International and Domestic, to the impressive growth in charters especially cargo flights during the pandemic, increased flight frequency by domestic airlines and flight operations on the Accra-Ho-Accra and Accra-Wa-Accra routes within the year.
On the Financial Performance of the company, she indicated that a loss of about GH¢252m was posted for the year under review ending December 31, 2021.
This was an improved performance compared to the loss of GH¢435.5m in 2020. The underlying factor, she said, was a significant increase in financial cost for the Term Loan Facility for the construction of Terminal 3 at KIA.