Govt urged to reduce taxes to address rising cost of operating airlines

The KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has called on government to review taxes to address rising cost of operation of airlines.

Country Manager of the airline, Dick Van Nieuwenhuyzen, said the current business challenges makes Ghana uncompetitive and unattractive for investments within the sub-region.

“The business environment in Ghana is difficult for airlines. Presently, aviation fuel is 20 per cent higher here than in Europe. This and other high handling charges results in high operational costs, making Ghana uncompetitive for business,” he stated.

He was speaking to Ghanaian Times yesterday on the occasion of the airline’s 100 anniversary celebration in Accra.

The event was attended by government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, traditional leaders, Dutch community in Ghana and customers among others.

Despite the high operational cost, Mr Nieuwenhuyzen noted that the airline has made significant investment and increased its capacity to be able to offer services in the country.

He said the airline was operating 14 flights a week from the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, averaging more than 20,000 passengers monthly.

Presently, he stated that the airline was responsible for 15 per cent of passengers’ throughput of the airport, adding that bigger and new aircraft were allocated to the Accra routes within the past year to provide services to Ghanaians which was considered a prime market.

As an airline focused on environmental protection, the Country Manager said the company was ready to support Ghana in its environmental protection initiatives, including afforestation.

Minister of Aviation, Joseph Kofi Adda, assured airlines in the country that government was ready to engage and find solutions to challenges in their operations, stating that “our doors are always opened to them for us to talk because this sector has so much potential for us too.”

He said the government would next week outdoor the airline passenger guidelines which seeks to educate passengers of their rights as passengers as well as outline the responsibilities of airlines toward their passengers.

Among other things, the guidelines, he said, would enumerate sanctions on airlines which violate the rights of passengers, provide mechanisms for passengers to seek redress and provide a platform for airlines to establish communication channels with passengers.

He commended KLM for operating in Ghana for the past 59 years and providing connectivity services to Ghanaians to other parts of the globe.

He urged the airline to undertake sustainable initiatives in impactful sectors across the country to support government’s efforts to improve lives and support the country’s afforestation agenda.

BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS

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