The commencement of passenger operations by Passion Air a domestic airliner is expected to promote competition and to drive down air-fares as passengers complain about rising ticket prices.
With only one domestic airline Africa World Airlines (AWA) operating flights from Accra to Takoradi, Kumasi, and Tamale, a one-way ticket between Accra and Kumasi for instance costs about GH¢300. Air-fares between Accra and Tamale now cost about GH¢490.
Passion Air, which has started operation, after all its paper-work and test flights and revenue free maiden flight to Kumasi, has got thumps up with the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) which has approved it operations.
Experts believe that the current ticket prices will fall as passion Air starts operation and competition increases.
After the collapse of Starbow Airlines, the domestic airline industry suffered hugely with passenger throughput dropping, as many passengers could not catch flights due to the monopoly enjoyed by the only airline AWA that has remained in operation till today.
The expectation of stakeholders is founded on the operating environment in the last ten years, when operator’s ticket prices fell to the barest minimum with about four airlines which included Antrak, Fly 540, Africa World Airlines and Starbow were all in operation. In fact a one-way ticket between Accra and Kumasi was under GH¢300 five years ago.
Speaking to JoyBusiness at official launch of the new domestic airliner, the Accountable Manager at Passion Air, Eddy Annan said, “I am determined to lead my team to build an aviation hub in Ghana, giving air travellers the best of service they deserve, making air travel of these passengers a memorable one.
Comparing it to previous years, the fares are expensive. It is still relatively expensive because if we want people to do more of air travel than travelling by bus, then this is definitely time to have competitive prices which will attract more people to the safest, fastest and most convenient way of travelling.”
Mr Annan added,“For starters we are looking at focusing on our domestic market, doing Accra-Kumasi, Accra-Tamale and later Takoradi. Possibly in the near-future, after we have operated for a while, we will consider the west coast and even the intercontinental routes.”
Industry players, however, believe that the current high fares can largely be attributed to the monopoly which was being enjoyed by AWA, given that their operational costs as well.
Economic directives to protect travellers
Meanwhile the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is set to introduce a reform to the current regulations on air passenger rights and the liability of airlines within the domestic spaces.
The economic directive is aimed at ensuring that domestic air passengers have better rights to information, care and re-routing when they are stranded at the airport.
At the same time, the regulation when it comes into force will better complement procedures and enforcement measures introduced, so that passengers can actually obtain the rights they are entitled to.
Also speaking at the official launch of Passion Airline the Director-General of the GCAA Simon Allotey said rights will bring about fair competition in terms of pricing.
“We are having general economic directives to ensure that passenger rights are protected and respected, in that when you check in a passenger, you delay him several hours at the airport or conceal the flights with no good reason, the airline must compensate the passenger.
There is also the fair competition as I told you about, one there is monopoly the airline can charge high prices and there can be coalition to charge high prices and one airline with strengthen can lower prices to push others out of the market and later up their prices to make up for the loss.”
“All these are the reason why we are going to introduce the economic directives at the domestic front, to check anything which is likely to affect the passenger,” Mr. Allotey added.
The new indigenous carrier, Passion Air, has taken delivery of its first 78 seater aircraft, Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 which is being used to begin its operation today with three daily flights to Kumasi from Accra, and later fly to Tamale and Takoradi upon delivery of the other two aircrafts which are to be delivered soon.
On booking systems, Passion Air is encouraging the travelling public to make use of the online check-in which is very user-friendly as it is possible for the public to check-in online from the convenience of their homes, offices and wherever they may be before they get to the airport.