Transport Minister calls for fair air transport negotiations

With air transport playing a very significant role in national development, there is the need for Ghana and countries in West Africa to speedily conclude Air Services Agreements with countries of the European Union who are the sub-region’s major trading partners, Deputy Minister of Transport, Mrs Dzifa Attivor, said on Wednesday.

“In the face of inequality in market power, I will like to urge that we negotiate with our European partners to maintain and sustain effective participation of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) air carriers in international air transport,” she said.

Mrs Attivor said this at the first meeting between the ECOWAS Commission and the European Union (EU) Commission, for negotiations on certain aspects of air transport services.

Touching on the disadvantaged position of countries within the sub-region, she said: “My country has not been able to conclude negotiations on our bilateral air services agreements with member states of the European Union owing to the reluctance of the EU to accept the African Union provisions. It is my hope that this meeting finally settles all outstanding issues.”

The Director-General of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey (Rtd), expressed concern over the manner in which “our carriers have been excluded from the European air transport markets, using measures such as black listing”.

He observed that in recent years there had been a sharp rise in the number of airlines operating flights into Ghana, adding that this demonstrated the confidence which the rest of the world had in the Ghanaian economy.

“It is also an indication of the lucrative nature of the Ghanaian and the West African air routes.”

Air Commodore Mamphey said as a country, “our expectations from this growth of traffic and these negotiations are the benefits that would accrue to the travelling public, namely, affordable fares, reliability and punctuality, good customer service and, above all, higher standard of safety and security.

“We cherish our air transport relations with European countries and have attempted to progressively review our Bilateral Air Services Agreements with some of these states. Unfortunately, we have not been able to finalise these agreements due to disagreements on the European Community clauses.”

Air Commodore Mamphey expressed the hope that an agreement would be reached “on all these outstanding issues at the end of the negotiations”.

Mr Philip Burghelle-Venet, Head of the EU delegation, said he looked forward to improved air transport relations between the two blocs through the negotiations.

He said there would be a review of all bilateral agreements which limited the operations of West African airlines.

The mandate for the negotiations is derived from Resolution 12 on the Common External Policy of ECOWAS Member States for Negotiation of Air Services Agreements with third countries, adopted at a joint meeting of the ECOWAS Ministers of Transport/Infrastructure and Finance, which was held in Yamoussoukro in June, 2009. The resolution has now been transformed into a Regulation.

Source: GNA

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