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VENTURES AFRICA – As part of its strategic goal to link up West African destinations, Ghana-based Africa World Airlines (AWA) has launched its maiden flight from Accra to Lagos.
The twice-daily Accra to Lagos flight makes AWA the only Ghanaian domestic airline flying regional routes.
“Today is an important milestone in the realization of our goal to integrate West Africa and Africa as a whole. It’s a great achievement” Togbe Afede XIV, Founder and Co-Chair of AWA said while speaking to Journalists on arrival at the Murtala Mohammed International airport in Lagos.
According to him, the main goal was to connect Africa by creating routes structured in a hub-and-spoke model with Accra as its hub, in order to achieve a seamless one-change connection between multiple city pairs in the region.
The airline’s Chief Operating Officer, Apiigy Afenu said the airline is launching the flight to coincide with the Christmas festivities so as to ride on the increased travel activity.
AWA’s launch of the regional route will increase the competition for airlines like Arik, Fly Emirates Airlines and Aero> It will also aid movement of people and capital between West African economies.
AWA welcomes competition from other airlines as there is enough demand on the route for more than one airline, said Togbe Afede XIV. According to him, some international carriers ply regional routes due to lack of local regional carriers. AWA’s regional operations would only complement their efforts.
“There is still a lot of need on the route. We have the financial capacity, provided by our financial partners like CADFUND and technical expertise from HNA airlines, to withstand any competition,” he stated.
The airline’s main strength in dealing with competition would be in remaining reliable and offering competitive fares, Afenu added.
Meanwhile, AWA plans to launch a direct flight to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, by end of next month with other regional destinations in view. The airline also aims to commence flights to Brazil by the end of Q4 2014 – ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup taking place in the South American nation.
According to Afede, establishing a direct link from Accra to Brazil would not only help to shorten the distance between both nations, it would also open up trade links between both countries.
Launched on September 21, 2012 with two Embraer ERJ-145s, AWA is a joint venture between the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Strategic African Securities and the Hainan Airlines of China which aims to change the face of aviation in Ghana.
AWA also plans expand to regional destinations such as Ouagadougou, Abidjan, Port Harcourt, Conakry, Dakar and Banjul, with plans for Johannesburg Harare, Entebbe and Luanda to come later.