He said even though other countries in West Africa were signatories to the same agreements that promoted liberalization of airspace among countries, they were not over-liberalizing their airspace like Ghana was.
Alhaji Banda was speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate a new addition to Antrak’s fleet of aircraft in Accra on Thursday.
The new aircraft, a Beechcraft 1900D, financed by Intercontinental Bank Ghana Limited, is the fifth in Antrak’s fleet although only three are currently in use.
Alhaji Banda cited examples of the difficulties one had to go through to receive overflying permits from some African countries to use their airspace and the refusal of countries such as Nigeria to allow airlines from other West African countries to fly directly to Nigeria.
These countries have reserved direct flights to their country for their local operators unlike Ghana, he said, adding “over-liberalizing does not help us.”
Alhaji Banda stated that Ghana needed a successful local airline to regain the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Category 1 status adding that AntrakAir would be the airline to help achieve this status.
“You need a Ghanaian airline that qualifies to get Category 1 by the end of this year; I am the one who would restore Category 1 for you.”
He appealed to the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to help local airlines by taking a look at fuel prices, taxes and other fees with a view to reducing the prices for domestic carriers so that they could in turn make their flights affordable for passengers.
Alhaji Banda said as it stood now, “we would love to reduce the fares but we can’t”.
Mrs. Doreen Owusu-Fianko, Managing Director of the Ghana Airports Company Limited, commended AntrakAir for its performance and for being the leader in domestic airlines but urged them to do better.
“We are looking for a 100 per cent, you can always do better,” she said.
She expressed regret that Ghana still did not have a domestic carrier that served all the regions as well as the West African sub-region and urged Antrak to work towards starting operations to the sub-region from Ghana.
Mrs Owusu-Fianko also advised them to make one of the regional airports their hub especially since the KIA might not have room for domestic airlines in the future.
Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey (Rtd), Director-General of the GCAA, also urged them to open up additional routes to other parts of the country.
He thanked the Intercontinental Bank for supporting the acquisition of the aircraft as it would help to improve domestic air travel.
He said when the public was guaranteed safe and secure flights and affordable fares, air transport would become more common especially with the increase in road accidents in Ghana.
Mr. Albert Mmegwa, Managing Director Of Intercontinental Bank, called on other banks to support the local aviation industry so as to make travel between countries in the sub-region easier adding that his bank was happy with the partnership with AntrakAir.
“Travel in the West African sub-region now is a nightmare; there’s a lot to be done and other banks should support the development of aviation in the sub-region. No one else would do it for us,” he said.
Ms Dzifa Attivor, Deputy Minister of Transport, cut the tape to mark the official inauguration of the aircraft after which the dignitaries and invited guests inspected and were taken on an inaugural flight.
The AntrakAir Beechcraft 1900D is fitted with 18 instead of 19 single-class seats in a single aisle layout to make room for toilet facilities.
It is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67D turboprop engines, which provide a cruise speed of 316 miles per hour (mph) at an altitude of 25,000ft.