A privately owned carrier is working on its proposed launch with ambitious plans to establish long-haul connections from the Ghanaian capital Accra to both London and New York. In an exclusive interview with The HUB at this week’s African Airlines Association Annual General Assembly in Marrakech, Morocco, George Aggudey, Chief Executive Officer of the start-up, Sika Airlines, revealed more details on the proposed venture’s plans and wider growth in the business world.
“There is a huge opportunity for us to establish ourselves in the market. There are currently limited air links from Accra and these are dominated by international carriers. We want to develop a local interest in this market and potentially establish Sika Airlines as Ghana’s premier carrier,” he said. The company has made a formal application with Ghanaian authorities for a licence and is in talks with manufacturers, lessors, airlines and trading companies to source a couple of Boeing 777s under a wet-lease arrangement.
“We will initially operate under ACMI deals but eventually plan to have our own operating licence,” explained George Aggudey. “We haven’t actually specified which variant of the 777 we will operate and will see what offers we receive, however, we are looking at a four-class arrangement with a small First Class cabin.” He has aspirations of the carrier becoming “the pride of Ghana” and confirms that the company will operate under a quality ethos with an in-flight product that rivals some of the industry’s pioneering operators.
Sika Airlines will initially serve New York and London with a five times weekly schedule planned to each destination. It will serve JFK in the US city and most likely Gatwick in the UK capital, although George Aggudey confirmed that Heathrow would be the terminus of choice, due to “its connection options,” but he recognises the difficulty securing slots for the international gateway. Other destinations under consideration include Atlanta, cities in Brazil and Canada as well as Dubai in the Middle East.
London and New York rotes are currently two of the largest long-haul markets from Accra. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways already fly Accra – London Heathrow, a market of around 211,000 O&D passengers; while Delta flies Accra – New York JFK, a market of an estimated 27,000 O&D travellers.
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