Ghana to regain FAA category 1 status

The country is tipped to regain its US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Category 1 status, following the realignment of various policies, establishment of key institutions, and amendment of laws governing the aviation sector in line with international requirements over the past few years.

The economic benefits from a country being designated as a Category 1 country are extensive, as according to the FAA it “allows new, direct, highly desirable, and profitable routes into the United States”. It also allows code-sharing with a US air-carrier.

Put simply, Ghanaian registered carriers will be able to offer flights to the US – just as Ghana Airways used to do in the past – and form meaningful partnerships with US carriers, thereby offering passengers more travelling options from Ghana to the North American country.

Reforms led by the Aviation Ministry, according to analysts, have placed the country in a pole position to move from its current Category 2 status to Category 1 Status soon, after over a decade since the downgrade.

They include: the recent inauguration of the National Air Transport Facilitation Committee; obtaining Africa’s highest score in Aviation Safety Oversight after scoring a provisional Effective Implementation (EI) rate of 89.89 percent; and the expected decoupling of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) from Air Navigation Services this year.

The expected establishment of an independent Accident Investigations Board, and amendment of the GCAA Act are all major developments in line with UN agency the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) requirements.

To protect passenger rights, the Aviation Ministry – led by Joseph Kofi Adda and working with various stakeholders – recently launched the Consumer Protection Directives.

Aviation Minister Joseph Kofi Adda, at the inauguration of the passenger directives and National Air Transport Facilitation Committee said: “Despite these achievements in recent times, we will not rest on our oars. We have been recognized, and it means we must do more to stay on top”.

More protection for passengers

The Consumer Protection Directive stipulates that: When an Air Operator reasonably expects to deny boarding on a flight due to overbooking or an emergency necessitating a sudden change in an aircraft type, it shall first call for volunteers to surrender their reservations in exchange for benefits under conditions to be agreed between the passenger concerned and the Air Operator.

If an insufficient number of volunteers come forward to allow the remaining passengers with reservations to board the flight, the operating Air Operator may then deny boarding to passengers against their will.

If boarding is denied to passengers against their will, the operating Air Operator shall immediately award an affected passenger compensation amounting to not less than: (a) Sixty United States Dollars (US$60) for domestic flights, or (b) two Hundred United States Dollars (US$200) for international flights of one thousand five hundred kilometres (1500 km) or less; or (c) Four hundred United States Dollars (US$400) for international flights with a distance of between one thousand five hundred kilometres (1,500 km) to three thousand five hundred kilometres (3,500 km); or (d) Six Hundred United States Dollars (US$600) for international flights of more than three thousand five hundred kilometres (3,500 km).