The newly built Terminal Three of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) is a historic booster to Ghana's aviation fortunes.
Judged for its cost but admired for the iconic beauty, the US$250 million-project is not only a head spinner for first- timers, it is also a great enabler for growth in passenger numbers for airlines, extra taxes for Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) and increased tourists for Ghana.
With it, Ghana now stands tall among its African peers when it comes to countries with world-class airports. From a national perspective, that is a sense of pride as well as an avenue for revenue generation.
Just by the face value, international airlines are reported to have been cashing in on the facility through passenger volumes while the government, through GACL and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), are raking in extra revenue.
In the corporate field, Africa World Airlines Limited (AWA), a Ghanaian-registered private airline operator is arguably the airline that is benefiting the most. The airline recently reported that the new terminal has seen its connecting traffic grow by 400 per cent to 150 passengers per week.
The growth is between September 15, 2018 when the new terminal was opened to the travelling public and February this year.
The Head of Commercial of AWA, Mr Richard Kyereh, who confirmed the development to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS indicated that passengers facilitation and transfer had become seamless since the new terminal became operational.
According to him, passengers from neighbouring countries such as Nigeria, Liberia, and Sierra Leone were choosing Ghana as their preferred destination to connect other parts of the continent.
That, he said, was beyond the airline's expectations for the period, prompting it to increase its fleet of aircraft from seven to eight in order to meet the increase in passenger traffic.
Airport MD dazzled
The figures of AWA even surprised the acting Managing Director (MD) of GACL, Mr Yaw Kwakwa, when his office was furnished with the numbers.
In his own words, “yesterday, I met with officials of AWA and I was surprised to hear that since the international airlines were moved from the terminal two to the facility—its passenger throughput for the first three months has quadrupled,” he said on February 13 at a press soiree by the Ministry of Aviation in Accra.
With the advent of the new terminal, he disclosed that the airport authority’s assessment had shown a surge in the number of passengers from other neighbouring countries who often transit through KIA.
The MD explained that citizens from neighbouring countries, particularly Nigerians, travelled to Ghana just to see and have a feel of the new world-class facility.
This shows that effort by previous and the present government of positioning Ghana as a preferred aviation hub and leader in airport business in the West African sub-region is yielding the desired results.
Towards that end, Mr Kwakwa affirmed the commitment of GACL to strengthen its systems to ensure that the airport authority’s vision was achieved within the shortest possible time.
Although management of Air France-KLM Group did not attribute its growth on the Accra route to Terminal Three, it reported 6.4 per cent rise in passenger throughput last year.
“The growth in passengers from Accra to the rest of the world reached 6.4 per cent, exceeding the airline's own projections, as the numbers increased by 295,700 at the end of 2018, its Country Manager, Mr Dick Van Nieuwenhuyzen, told the paper in an interview on February 6 in Accra.
He stated that management of the group was happy with the airline’s performance in the country.
Cost of operations
Although charges for operating check-in-boots at the new terminal by the airlines have been reported to be high compared to the previous terminal two, most of the operators who spoke to the paper on condition of anonymity stated that the state-of-the-arts facilities at Terminal Three justified the charges.
The operators indicated that their passenger volumes had increased since the facility became operational.
With regard to revenue, the government projected to rake in GHȼ4.9 billion from airport tax. It had made GHȼ3.5billion by the end of the third quarter last year, according to the Ministry of Finance’s 2018 fiscal data.
Given that Ghana’s high season for visitors falls between November and March, some aviation experts believe that the remaining GHȼ1.4 billion had already been achieved.
Revenue collected through the airport tax and terminal charges are expected to be used to service loans secured for the construction of the facility.
It is also apt to add that about US$30 million of the funding required for the construction of the terminal was sourced from oil revenues.
The figure, which represented 12 per cent of the total funding of the US$250million project, was from the Annual Budget Funding Account 's (ABFA) allocation to the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund's (GIIF) in 2016. The remaining was sourced from Africa Development Fund and Development Bank of Southern Africa.
Aviation hub becoming reality
The third terminal has indeed added an invaluable capacity to KIA, positioning it to accommodate and handle more than five million passengers per annum. This brings the country closer to its quest of creating a preferred aviation hub in the West African sub-region.
Beyond passenger capacity, the facility also has an additional 7,000 square metres retail area.
The new airport has five levels spreading across a land size of 48,268 square metres, six boarding bridges, seven links which are expandable to eight in the near future, four 80-metre long electronic carousels, a 707-capacity parking lot and a new road network.
Construction for the terminal was started under former President John Dramani Mahama's administration in 2015 and completed last year under President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Its completion is indeed as much a tribute to continuity after a change of government as it is the result of the vision of GACL.