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Mon 17.05.10 14:58
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Ghana International Airlines went bankrupt

Ghanaian airline folds again

By CHRIS MBURU

Posted Sunday, May 16 2010 at 18:33 http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/Ne...l.php?ID=182160

Ghana International Airlines (GIA) finally collapsed last week, leaving a trail of stranded passengers at airports in Accra, London and Düsseldorf, as the crisis over the West African skies worsens.

Workers of the airline have been asked to go home until further notice, journalists working at Kotoka International Airport, Accra confirmed on Saturday. Ugly incidents of stone throwing by angry passengers were seen at the airline's offices on Friday, even as Ghanaian government officials tried to assert control.

"There has been total confusion at the offices of the GIA since Friday morning when passengers who were to travel this week had their flight postponed indefinitely. Yes, this carrier is not operating for now," a member of the Media Corps at the airport said on telephone Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

This is the latest after a series of flights were cancelled owing to contractual agreements between GIA and its partners in Britain and the recent volcanic eruption in the Iceland.

A UK international travel website, Travelhouseuk, reported as early as Thursday April 29 that GIA passengers at Gatwick airport had suffered from intense depression and disappointment when the airline announced the termination of flights to Ghana.

Crisis negotiations to hire a private jet failed over financial arrangements, and all passengers were handed letters from the airline stating "the flights are terminated till further notice."

This is the second collapse of a Ghanaian national carrier after the failure of the former Ghana Airways in December 2004. A former minister of Finance in Accra and several former managers of Ghana Airways are currently facing court cases over alleged misappropriation of funds and mismanagement of the airline in Accra.

GIA was set up in 2004 as a partnership between the Government of Ghana and a group of private international investors soon after Ghana Airways collapsed. A team of executives led by Mr Ralph Atkin, founder of SkyWest Airlines in the US was installed, which also included Mr Brian Presbury, the former CEO of Kenya Airways (KQ).

The new airline launched operations in October 2005 with daily flights from Accra to London, using a Boeing 757 jet leased from Ryan International Airlines. Flights to Johannesburg, South Africa started in 2006, while flights to Düsseldorf, Germany began in 2008.

Consortium

It is owned by the Ghanaian government (70 per cent) and a US consortium (GIA-USA) (30 per cent), but shareholders have been engaged in a protracted legal dispute since 2006. The Government has been looking for partners to recapitalise and restructure the airline.

Management of the company ceded to the minority partner under a signed agreement in 2006. The company flew into turbulence soon after it was established when the government of Ghana dismissed the minority shareholder, GIA-USA and terminated Mr Presbury's contract as CEO.

The foreign partner subsequently filed legal papers against the Ghanaian government at The Hague, seeking redress for breech of contract. Although the court is yet to make a final determination on the matter, officials of GIA-USA say they are set for arbitration.

Complaints over GIA's poor customer service have been rampant on the internet. Writing on another website, Mr Felix Adu-Gyamfi Appiah says; "A leopard may get wet falling into water, but its spots are eternal. Apart from the name change of the above airline, the mismanagement, incompetence and corruption remains the same."

In October 2009, the airline denied media reports that it was asking the Ghanian government for a financial bailout.

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