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Antrak Air Ghana is emerging as West Africa’s most important regional airline. William Asare, quality assurance manager and acting head of flight operations, talks to Jayne Flannery about the factors behind the success story

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he global aviation market has undergone a testing time in recent years; however, Antrak Air Ghana has taken analysts by surprise. To date it has been a tale of ongoing expansion with steadily soaring revenues and profitability. The company began operations in September 2003 with the stated ambition to become West Africa’s gateway to the world, and quickly established a position as Ghana’s only significant provider of domestic airline services. Last year, over 70,000 passengers took to the skies with Antrak Air. William Asare, quality assurance manager and acting head of flight operations, believes that the most critical factor behind the company’s success is the wealth of experience its management team has to offer. Antrak Air is led by one of Ghana’s most experienced businessmen, Dr Alhaji Asoma Abu Banda, who holds the position of CEO and executive chairman. Alhaji Banda—a member of the Council of State and recently judged the fifth most respected CEO in Ghana by global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers—has been the driving force behind the establishment of a number of successful companies, both within Ghana and internationally, including Antrak Group of Companies; OTAL Holding Group; Cross Marine Services, Nigeria; and the Tema Container Terminal. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the University of Cape Coast have since conferred on him a doctorate in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the maritime and air transport industry. “Dr Banda’s experience was vital in drawing up the specifications for Antrak Air’s fleet, which has been a key factor behind its success,” explains Asare. Dr Banda is also a member of the British Institute of Directors. Asare believes that the management team benefits from the European outlook he shares with his son, Fadel Banda, who was educated in Europe and

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ATR Toulouse, Southern France-based regional aircraft manufacturer ATR is the world reference in the 50 to 74-seat turboprop market. Its ATR 42 and ATR 72 are the perfect solution on short-haul routes around the world. ATR has sold more than 1,000 aircraft since the beginning of its programme in 1981, and benefits from the experience and know-how of two of the major leading European aerospace industries EADS and Alenia Aeronautica (Finmeccanica Group). ATR counts today some 160 operators on 90 countries. ATR has become the leader in its category by providing environment-friendly, low operating costs, easy-to-maintain and comfortable aircraft. ATR ‘-600 series’, its newest version, will enter into service in 2011.

have now been supplemented by daily flights from Accra to Takoradi, which gives coverage of the most important city of the Western Region. The service has immediately established its popularity due to growing economic activity in the area as a result of increasing offshore oil activities. Then there is the new Accra to Sunyani route, previously without regular scheduled flights, where there is now a daily passenger service from Monday through to Friday. This area also boasts a number of large scale projects, from the issue of new mining rights to the high profile Bui Dam power project. “We are working to link all of Ghana’s major cities and to satisfy the demand of a new generation of

“Satisfying domestic demand is our first priority and having the right equipment is absolutely fundamental” also has a place on Antrak Air’s management board as general manager / head of corporate affairs. The fleet was founded with the purchase of two DC-9 aircraft from Boeing International Corporation in 2003. Antrak Air then acquired a further two 46-seater ATR 42-300 aircraft for domestic services in 2008. The fleet was added to again this year by the recent addition of a stateof-the-art 19-seater Beechcraft 1900D in May 2010 through a lease arrangement with Allegiance Air in South Africa. Antrak Air has initiated the process of acquiring its own two Beechcrafts, one of which is expected to touch the soils of Ghana in January next year. The Beechcraft has established a niche as one of the most popular 19-passenger planes ever made. This twin-engine turboprop plane, manufactured by Raytheon, was designed primarily as a regional airliner with the flexibility to be adapted to freight and corporate requirements. It is designed to operate in all weathers from airports with relatively short runways and has a range of almost 1,000 kilometres. “Satisfying domestic demand is our first priority and having the right equipment is absolutely fundamental,” says Asare. “We have excellent aircraft for our routes and knew from the outset they would provide a good return on the investment.” Daily flights from the national capital Accra to Kumasi and Tamale using the 46-seat ATR 42-300s

enlightened air travellers,” explains Asare. “People are quickly recognising the ease and comfort that our shuttle services offer and realising that air travel is a reliable, affordable and enjoyable experience. The Ghanaian business community is seeing new commuting opportunities as a better way to make use of its time and a new way to enhance working efficiency,” says Asare. Above all else, Antrak Air has consolidated its success by establishing outstanding safety credentials. Asare explains that at present, apart from minor repairs, a French maintenance company, based in Toulouse but with international operations, takes full responsibility for repairs. Meanwhile Blue Sky, based at Exeter in the UK, is responsible for pilot training and safety. “We are absolutely committed to the safety of our passengers and we have an excellent safety record with zero accidents since we began operating,” continues Asare, who is licensed by the Federal Aviation Authority and Ghana Civil Aviation Authority as a flight operations officer. He was trained in Quality and Safety Management in South Africa and also holds the IATA Operational and Safety Audit (IOSA) accreditation. “We recognise that our strength lies in management and marketing,” he says. “At present we undertake only minor routine maintenance and work in partnership with French and British providers


for all of our major maintenance requirements and safety and pilot training. This means we are able to satisfy the very demanding audit requirements of oil and mining operations who want the maximum guarantee possible that their staff are being transported safely,� he adds. As a result, these companies are increasingly specifying Antrak Air as the transport provider of choice. As both the mining and energy sectors in West Africa are noting a strong recovery, there is an immediate prospect of strong organic growth in demand for air services. Antrak Air also intends to expand its tourism-based business over the next few years. Tourism in Ghana is a fast growing sector and can only be enhanced by the availability of an easy transport option to the country’s many notable sights, which at present are often difficult and time consuming to access. Looking beyond domestic opportunities to the future, Antrak Air holds rights to operate flights to all the major cities in the West African-sub region. Then it intends to project itself onto the global stage. The company has been designated to operate flights to the UK, Germany, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Lebanon. www.antrakair.com


Antrak Air Ghana


Antrak www.antrakair.com

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