Opinion: Open up Kotoka Terminal 1 for use by domestic airlines

By Palgrave Boakye-Danquah January 13, 2020 1804 151 comments

Kotoka International Airport has been the only international airport in Ghana I have known since I started travelling at a very young age. I am now an adult and it must be said that the airport has served the country well.

Initially it was a military installation, used by the British Royal Air Force during World War II. After the war, it was handed over to civilian officials.

In 1956 the then Prime Minister, Kwame Nkrumah, decided to develop and reconfigure the structure as a terminal building. The project converting the military base was completed in 1958. The site was originally named Accra International Airport.

In 1969, Accra International Airport was renamed Kotoka International Airport in honour of Lieutenant General Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka (1926-67), a member of the National Liberation Council, Ghana’s joint military/civilian government between 1966 and 1969. Kotoka was killed in an abortive coup attempt at a location that is now the forecourt of the airport.

Big facelift

Over the years, a great deal of renovation work has been done at the facility, ensuring that it has remained in competition with other international airports in the region and around the world.

The facility had its biggest facelift when construction officially commenced on 1 March 2016 for a new US$274 million building – Terminal 3, which is capable of handling five million passengers a year, with expansion potential of up to 6.5 million.

The terminal, managers say, is able to handle 1,250 passengers an hour. It also offers three business lounges, a large commercial and retail area and six boarding bridges. The terminal officially opened to passengers on 15 September 2018.

Before the construction of Terminal 3, all domestic airlines were using Terminal 1 while the international airlines used Terminal 2. This arrangement has been in place for many years. But the opening of Terminal 3 changed overall arrangements at the airport.

Now, the domestic airlines operate from Terminal 2, with the newly built Terminal 3 being used by international carriers. The new arrangement looks good but leaves Terminal 1 vacant and idle. This raises questions about what went into taking the decision.

Earnings potential

Terminal 2, currently being used for domestic flights, is underutilised. The place is huge, too big for local airline operators.

I think the authorities should reverse their decision, open Terminal 1 and ensure that all domestic flights operate from there. When that is done, they should make Terminal 2 open to regional airlines only, or airlines operating within the African continent. This will leave Terminal 3 purely for use by airlines operating outside the continent. It will also free space at the terminal and create an avenue that will attract other international airlines into the country.

There are reports suggesting that the abandoned Terminal 1 will be given out to a fixed-base operator or FBO – an organisation granted the right to operate at an airport and offer aeronautical services such as fuelling, hangaring, tie-down and parking, aircraft rental, maintenance and flight instruction.

Until that is done, there will be a need to make sure Terminal 1 is open.

One thing which cannot be ignored is that if we make use of the building, the state will generate more revenue to help develop Ghana to the level all citizens have been wishing for.

Palgrave Boakye-Danquah is executive director of the Kandifo Institute

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Last modified on Tuesday, 14 January 2020 20:18


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