The country’s aviation sector regulator and airports operator, Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL), are in discussions to reduce landing fees by up to 20 percent for all international airlines servicing the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).
Any such reduction would support international airlines reduce their cost of operation when the country’s airspace is opened for scheduled international flights.
Simon Allotey, the Director-General of the GCAA, told Business24 exclusively that: “We have not granted any waivers for international airlines yet. We are still in discussions with the GACL to see what could be granted. We are assessing if a percentage of the landing fees could be taken off for a limited period. We could give up to 20 percent to help airlines recover.”
Intercontinental flights currently pay between US$7.20 and US$75 per ton depending on the weight of the aircraft. Sub-regional flights also pay between US$4 and US$30 per ton.
Any reduction in landing fees would be a big relief for airlines as it forms a major component of their cost build-up. For an airline that operates a Boeing 777 between Accra and Europe, it costs about GH¢178,534 to operate a single flight.
An airline that operates a Boeing 777 that weighs between 247–299 tons pays between US$1,519 and US$1,839 per flight, in addition to lighting fees, navigational fees, government taxes, and parking fees.
If the 20 percent reduction is approved, it means the airline would now have to pay between US$300 and US$368 less.
As of May 2020, international airlines servicing the KIA had lost an estimated US$400m in potential earnings due to the COVID-19-enforced lockdowns in Ghana and around the world. Some international airlines closed their local offices in March and asked staff to take unpaid leave from the end of April until when the situation normalises.
It is further estimated that collectively, international airlines servicing the KIA will lose an additional US$100m in potential earnings if the suspension of international flights continues till June 31.
Extension of licence renewals
The GCAA has granted international airlines a three-month extension on the validity of their certificates and authorisation, while a similar extension has been granted to domestic airline operators for renewal of their personnel licence.
The ongoing discussions on landing fees reduction and extension of certificates form part of measures by the two entities and the supervising ministry, the Aviation Ministry, to ease the pain of operators brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The GACL has already waived rent for all airline offices at the KIA and the regional airports for the second quarter of this year.
It has also waived various aeronautical charges—landing, parking, and lighting—for the same period.
For concessionaires operating at the KIA and all regional airports, the GACL has waived rent and royalty payments from April-June.
For other tenants of the various airports—gift shops, restaurants, forex bureaus and others—who have been severely impacted by the lack of or reduced activities, the GACL has waived rent for quarter-two.