New route to Washington helping to further promote the country
South African Airways (SAA), the leading carrier on the African continent, proudly celebrates 20 years of flying to Accra, Ghana, a key performer in the airline’s West Africa route network.
From a small beginning on 4 April 1996 when SAA first landed a B767-200 aircraft at the Kotoka International Airport, the route has grown from three frequencies to eight frequencies per week.
“High service standards and attention to customer service delivery has resulted in growing frequent flyers and high load factors. Our customers enjoy Africa’s warmest hospitality on board and the reliability of our flight schedules,” says Gloria Mensah, SAA Country Manager in Ghana.
South Africa and Ghana has a strong history dating back to 1994 when diplomatic relations between the two countries were established and since that time the two countries have signed 19 bilateral agreements and Memoranda of Understanding. These relations were formalised and structured under the Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation (PJCC) that was inaugurated in 2007. Ghana is a strategic partner for South Africa and is her second largest trading partner in the West African region.
It presents a key growth market for South African goods and services as well as an investment destination for South African companies. South Africa exports items such as vehicles, machinery, mechanical appliances, electrical equipment, base metals, aircraft, vessels, food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, I.T. products, clothes, and home hardware to Ghana. South Africa imports products such as gold (more than 90% of exports), wood and crude petroleum from Ghana.
Over the period 2011-2015, total trade of goods was R33.26 billion with exports valued at R17.90 billion and imports valued at R15.36 billion. South Africa registered a trade surplus of R2.53 billion over the same period. The period 2012-2014 registered the highest growth in South African imports from Ghana, attributed to South Africa importing petroleum oil from Ghana over this time. The country is positioning itself as an economic hub and entry point to West Africa.
“Friendships and business connections were further strengthened during the 2010 Soccer World Cup where relationships between the two countries flourished due to the sterling performance of the Ghana Black Stars which endeared them to the soccer fans of the host nation and the thousands of Ghanaian supporters who travelled for the experience,” says Mensah.
“South African music is also popular in Ghana with concerts by Hugh Masekela, Joyous Celebration, and the musical Africa Umoja are some of the South African acts which Ghanaians have enjoyed”.
As more South African companies showed an interest in Ghana this in turn stimulated further growth, which directly resulted in the introduction of a daily flight service in October 2013.
As a further investment in the route, SAA introduced flights between Accra and Washington DC in August 2015, after being granted traffic rights making SAA the first African carrier to offer a direct service between Accra and Washington DC.
From Washington DC SAA also offers convenient connections to and from over 50 markets in the U.S. and Canada through its airline partners United Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Virgin America. “The route was a major development and achievement for the airline as part of its Long-Term Turnaround Strategy where growth on the African continent has been set as a key objective.
“The Accra to Washington DC route is tremendously popular and has shown a steady growth in and received favourable customer ratings for excellent on board service and on time departures. We thank our loyal customers for their patronage and our dedicated team at the South African Airways Ghana office,” Mensah concluded.
Not only has SAA added Ghana as a second entry point in West Africa, the airline, has – true to its promise of improving inter-connectivity on the continent – entered into a bi-lateral codeshare agreement with Africa World Airlines. This airline partnership offers SAA customers from Washington DC and Johannesburg seamless connectivity via Accra to other destinations in Ghana such as Kumasi, Tamale as well as to Lagos, Nigeria.