The general public is being advised to be cautiously optimistic regarding the immediate positive outlook expected from the reopening of the airport to human traffic on the national economy.
Speaking on the Eye on Port program on the Impact of the Reopening of the Airport on Land and Sea Trade, the CILT President, explained that a lot would have to take place for the aviation industry to hit full momentum before trickling down to the national economy.
“When we start we are going to go slowly and that gradually Ghana will get its cut from the global aviation economy,” Mr. Hammond opined.
“We must really tipper our hopes in terms of the fact that business may not kick very fast,” he added.
Ebo Hammond, who is also a Director at the Ghana Health Service and a member of the Ministry of Transport's Advisory Board charged the responsible agencies in government to investigate, assess and present a comprehensive report on the losses from the shutdown of the airport from passenger travel, as well as the direction for recovery.
“It is also very important that the Aviation sector and also Ministry of Finance, and others work out something for us to really know where we have come from and what we have lost, especially now that we have reopened. What’s the gap we have to fill and what to do to go back,” he explained.
He recounted the losses the aviation industry had incurred globally due to the shutdown of business for airlines following restrictions on human movement.
“When we say shutdown of the aviation industry, it does not only mean planes are not flying but also the taxes and fees that can be generated from those activities are also virtually brought down to a negligible level,” the CILT President described.
He further disclosed that “overall, in the international aviation travels, KPMG envisaged that when we lock down, annually we can lose about 250 billion dollars globally.”
The trade and logistics expert also acknowledged the economic significance the reopening of the airports would present to many sub-sectors within the supply chain of the aviation industry.
The Executive Secretary of the Committee of Freight Forwarder Associations, and the Chairman of Customs Brokers Association of Ghana at the Kotoka International Airport, Nana Fredua Ofori-Atta, on the same program, also recounted the challenges local traders faced as a result of the ban on international travels.
He revealed that passenger travel guarantees about 90% of imports through the airport.
He further explained that because the country is heavily dependent on imports, and with very low export and passenger volumes during the partial shutdown, some airlines did not find Ghana as a favourable destination.
“Because we do not export much, the freighters do not see our destination as a good one, because they virtually return empty.”
The Chairman of CUBAG at KIA, identified the reopening of the airport to human traffic as timely as it coincides with the pre-Christmas peak season for international trade.
He empathized with local traders who have been financially constricted by the travel embargoes as it may significantly hamper their capacity to invest.
“Can you imagine? Almost (six) 6 months of lockdown, it is very sad. Majority of them have lost their capital,” he bemoaned.
Nana Ofori-Atta also revealed that factories overseas, especially the Far East, where Ghanaians trade, may also take time to gradually reach the production levels traders are ordinarily used to during this peak season of trade, hence the need to be patient.
He again complained about the hardships freight forwarding companies encountered during the COVID-19 restrictions at the airport and appealed to government to come to the aid of their members with some stimulus relief to alleviate their hardship.
“Most of the custom house operators in the airport are private organisations, they have also suffered almost similar consequences and nobody is coming to our rescue to say there is a package for us,” the CUBAG president appealed.