Commercial activities at two of the country’s idle regional airports will this week come alive to give renewed hope to the troubled travel and tourism industry.
It followed the introduction of flight services by a domestic airline operator, PassionAir to the Volta Regional capital, Ho and Upper West Regional capital, Wa.
This makes PassionAir the only airline, presently, to commence a service on both the Ho and Wa routes. This is in spite of the fact that its competitor, Africa World Airline (AWA), has also made an attempt to enter those routes. AWA in October 2019 started a service to Wa but suspended it in March last year due to a litany of challenges.
While the new commercial flights by PassionAir to Ho are expected to enhance connectivity between the Volta Region and other parts of the country, that of Wa is to enhance connectivity between the southern part of the country and the Upper West and East regions.
The new flight service is also to help boost businesses in the hospitality and tourism industries.
The government, through Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is also expected to rake in extra revenue from rents and aeronautical charges (landing, parking and lighting).
The airline intends to provide a two-weekly flight on the Accra-Ho route at the cost of GH¢209 for one-way ticket while offering a three-weekly flight on the Accra-Wa via Tamale route at the cost of GH¢395 also in the same ticket arrangement.
“PassionAir is pleased to announce the introduction of flight services to Wa and Ho from Accra. Starting on December 3 and 4 respectively.
Fly with us three times weekly to Wa and two times weekly to Ho. Welcome aboard to our new destinations,” a Facebook post by the airline stated.
In an interview with the Graphic Business in Accra on November 28, the Sales and Marketing Manager of PassionAir, Mr Samuel Razak Tachie, said beyond the two destinations, the airline operator was also increasing its frequencies across all its existing routes.
“Takoradi for instance is increasing from once daily to twice daily, Kumasi is also increasing up to seven flights daily for certain days. Tamale is also being increased from two flights daily to three times daily,” he said.
As a result, he said the airline operator has taken delivery of a third aircraft, Bombardier 300, a 50-seater airplane to support its increase in frequencies across the country.
“We are also expected to take delivery of a fourth aircraft in January next year to support the business,” he said.
Wa is a very fast-growing town with large tracts of land which are open for economic development. It takes about 10 to 12 hours by road from Accra, the national capital, to Wa.
From Kumasi or Tamale, it takes about five to seven hours. Since most businesses are centred in Accra, Kumasi or Tamale, one spends a lot of time travelling to those places.
However, it takes just about 45 minutes to fly from Accra to Wa.
It also takes about three hours and 20 minutes from Accra to Ho by road and about 20 minutes by air to the same destination from Accra.
The Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Letsa, said he was hopeful that the commencement of domestic airline operations at the Ho Airport would boost tourism
He said the operation would ensure that the Visit Volta initiative was well patronised by prospective customers.
“We have had tour operators enquiring already. For tourists from Accra to Ho, we are arranging vehicles to be around the airport with hotels also waiting so that we can organise flights for them from Accra so that they do not have to travel by road.
“We expect this to be well patronised so that every domestic airline will fly to Ho as soon as possible,” he said.
He commended the government’s determination to link the Volta Region by air to the rest of the country.
He said with the commencement of commercial flights to Ho, indigenes from the Volta Region would have easy access to the country’s capital.
He added the airport facility was beneficial to the region as it would cash in on the huge passenger traffic between the border town of Aflao and the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi.
Ho Airport is a regional airport built to serve Ho in the Volta Region. Construction of the facility was completed in 2017, although the airport was not opened to commercial traffic until 2021.
Wa Airport on the other hand is an airport serving Wa, a city in the Upper West Region which is also its capital.
The airport opened to scheduled commercial flight operations on October 15, 2019 with service by AWA from Accra via Tamale using an Embraer 145 regional jet.
Services were suspended in March 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and remain suspended pending resolution of various safety challenges.