Interview: Doreen Owusu-Fianko

What infrastructure upgrades are planned to keep Kotoka International Airport competitive globally?

DOREEN OWUSU-FIANKO: Our current airport structure was designed to cater to 500,000 passengers, but over the years annual passenger numbers have increased to 2.5m. Our design for terminal rehabilitation and expansion, especially the international terminal, will increase this capacity to 10m passengers per year by 2020-24. However, considering the current rate of growth, we will reach this target well before that date. Therefore, we are now in the process of acquiring 24,280 ha of land a few kilometres outside of Accra to build an “aerotropolis”, or airport city, that will include state-of-theart facilities that should enable us to handle over 20m passengers per year. We are in the second phase of the airport city, which will include hotel accommodation, shopping malls, high-end office accommodation and other complementary activities. We are aiming at developing a concept that will make Kotoka International Airport one of the preferred global hubs.

We are also in the process of expanding the domestic terminal, as we have seen an increase in monthly traffic from 4000 passengers to over 40,000 passengers. Last year a third of total passenger movement came from domestic travellers. To complement Kotoka International Airport, several infrastructural upgrades are needed. For Kotoka’s Terminal 1 and 2, the expansion investment will hover around $500m. We are also building a stand-alone terminal for private jets to meet the developing oil sector and economic growth, along with a massive cargo centre, which will enable the handling of a new type of trans-shipment cargo. Additionally, we will build a multi-storey car park within the next three years to handle up to 2500 vehicles.

What scope do you see for public-private partnerships (PPPs) in terms of planned capital expenditures in the aviation sector?

OWUSU-FIANKO: There are multiple opportunities. Of course, everyone is looking at Kotoka, but there are numerous other airports around the country where private sector participation will be welcomed. Takoradi Airport has great potential because of developments in the oil and gas sector. Anyone who wants to come in with a PPP, though, should have our aerotropolis concept in mind, which will create significant investment opportunities, as well as jobs and wealth.

What can carriers expect when it comes to future landing fees and cargo-handling costs?

OWUSU-FIANKO: What we are charging for service and landing fees are average prices when compared globally. The world has the wrong impression of these prices, including Ghanaians themselves. If you purchase a ticket to the US, the tax component is around $600-700.

Ghana’s share of this is only $100, with the rest going to the US government. These numbers are similar to those seen in Europe. We have also cut fuel costs by 20%, which further reduces the cost structure.

How can demand for carriers be satisfied without increasing congestion at the airport?

OWUSU-FIANKO: We now have over 40 active operating carriers. Slots are, of course, limited, as the runway closes at midnight and the new runway will not be fully operational before September 2014. We still try to encourage new airlines to come during our current gap between 2pm and 6pm, as finding slots in that timeframe is not a problem. New airlines are already in the pipeline: Air France will start operations here by 2014, and we are also in talks with Qatar Airways.

What do you see as the greatest challenges in terms of aviation and air operations in West Africa?

OWUSU-FIANKO: Maintenance is the greatest problem since there are no maintenance facilities. We are focusing on making this service available at Tamale Airport, where we now plan to create a facility for the subSaharan region for A-D checks. For Ghana specifically, a major challenge is the absence of a base carrier.