The airline which operates direct flights on the Accra – London route announced Thursday June 6, 2013 that it is suspending operations in Ghana.
It said its decision is due to “exceptionally high fuel costs, a challenging wider economic environment and an inability to operate morning arrivals from Accra due to scarcity of slots at Heathrow.”
When the last flight takes off in September, the airline will shut its offices in Accra and the 16 staff hired through a General Sales Agent will be redundant, Joanne Foster, Virgin’s Communications Manager in-charge of the UK, India, Middle East and Africa told ghanabusinessnews.com in an email response.
Asked about the implication of the decision on the employees, she said, “We are currently discussing the details with the employees and will be offering them a redundancy package as well as provide support to assist in their efforts to seek re-employment.”
Ms. Foster also told ghanabusinessnews.com that the airline might return sometime later when economic conditions improve.
“We remain hopeful that economic conditions on the route will improve in future to allow us to resume operations, but in the meantime we have reluctantly decided to cease operations as part of our plan to return to profitability,” she said.
Meanwhile, Virgin is the third international carrier to suspend operations in Ghana in the last one year.
Just two years after launching in Ghana, United Airlines stopped flying direct to Washington DC from Accra in April 2012. Another US airline, Delta Airlines cut its flights from Accra to Atlanta in the same year.
Delta Airlines suspended its service between Atlanta and Accra, Ghana, and Monrovia, Liberia in August 2012, citing “persistently high jet fuel prices and fluctuations in passenger demand” as the reasons.
Virgin launched its Accra services three years ago on May 24, 2010.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi