Why Ghana is angry at British Airways
As of March 28, 2021, British Airways plans to operate its daily service to Accra from Gatwick Airport rather than from Heathrow Airport. The airline justified this move by explaining that only 18% of travelers on the route are traveling for business reasons, and British Airways uses Gatwick more as its leisure airport.
However, Ghana’s government seems to be taking offense to this change, with the Accra flight being moved to London’s less prestigious airport. The government feels that this is unfavorable towards Ghanaian passengers, and is angry that the decision was made unilaterally.
The Ministry of Aviation has sent British Airways a letter threatening to take reciprocal action. In other words, if British Airways wants to transfer the Ghana flight to Gatwick, then the airline will be required to use another airport in Ghana.
As the Ministry of Aviation explains:
“For the avoidance of doubt, we are unable to accept the change in the London-Accra-London flights originating from Gatwick Airport.
We are not convinced about the reasons for the movement of the Accra-bound BA service from Heathrow to Gatwick Airport and thus strongly object to the changes.
In this regard, we wish to state unequivocally, that the Ghanaian authorities will advise itself and take a reciprocal action on behalf of our passengers in the coming days if our call for British Airways to rescind its decision on the movement to Gatwick Airport is not heeded.”
There’s only one small problem with the Ministry of Aviation’s threat — Kotoka International Airport (ACC) in Accra is the only major international airport in the country.
I’m not really sure what the Ministry of Aviation is threatening here. Obviously, the government is hoping that a threat is enough to make British Airways change its mind, but what happens otherwise? It would seem to me that the only real recourse that Ghana has it to force British Airways to suspend flights to the country.
Ghana doesn’t want British Airways’ flight to operate out of Gatwick
This isn’t the first British Airways & Ghana spat
Back in 2017, Ghana’s president met with British Airways’ head of sales in the region, to express frustration over the carrier’s operation in the country. Specifically, he wasn’t happy that the Accra flight was operated out of Heathrow’s Terminal 3 (rather than Terminal 5), and also didn’t like the 747 being used for the route:
“People complain about the movement (of flights to and from Accra) from Terminal five to Terminal three at Heathrow. Terminal three is not so convenient place as Terminal five. There are also complaints about the quality of the planes on the route and the service. In some quarters, there is a feeling that you are taking us a little for granted in the way in which we are receiving your services.”
I think on an occasion like this, for when friends are speaking, I think we should speak frankly. I think I am the proper person to let you know what the pre-occupations of our people are. These are matters that will be easy for you to rectify.”
The British Airways 747 that Ghana wasn’t happy with
Ghana’s government isn’t happy that British Airways is changing its Accra service from Heathrow to Gatwick, arguing it’s “unfavorable” towards passengers. The country is threatening reciprocity in the form of requiring the airline to operate to a different airport in Ghana. The only issue is that ACC is currently the only major international airport in the country.
What do you think — will British Airways give in to the Ministry of Aviation, or will the airline call its bluff?