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Lufthansa’s Flight Cancellations Irk Ghana Government

In Ghana, President John Kufuor’s government is reportedly shocked at a decision by Lufthansa, a German airliner to cancel all of its flights to the country. This comes after the airliner said its decision was largely influenced by a disagreement with the Ghanaian government. Its action has, however, left several passengers stranded at the Airport in Frankfurt unable to connect a flight to the capital, Accra. The Ghanaian government has described Lufthansa’s action as unfortunate and mischievous. Meanwhile, sources say negotiations are ongoing to resolve the impasse.

Gloria Akuffo is the minister for Aviation. From the capital, Accra she tells VOA English to Africa Service reporter Peter Clottey that Lufthansa reneged on an initial agreement, which has precipitated what she calls an unfortunate stalemate.

“Lufthansa has been doing seven frequencies; two arising out of bilateral service agreement, and five out of commercial co-operation agreement between the then-Ghana Airways and Lufthansa. Now, the five were given to Lufthansa the five were given to Lufthansa at the instance of Ghana Airways from government, the royalties of which were payable to Ghana Airways. In addition Ghana Airways was entitled to put a certain number of passengers on blocked seats on Lufthansa’s flight between Accra and Lagos, Accra. For no apparent reason, Lufthansa unilaterally, failed to pick up passengers of Ghana Airways. However it continued to use the five frequencies without paying royalties,” she pointed out.

Akuffo said Lufthansa refused to co-operate with the Ghanaian government after persistent request for the airline to fulfill part of its agreement.

“I wrote to Lufthansa, giving them the end of June this year to bring the matter to a conclusion. In their response to me the said I should travel to Germany with four of my staff, the expense of which Lufthansa was prepared to pick up. Of course I declined,” claims Akuffo.

She says the German embassy in Ghana is making efforts to resolve the impasse between the Ghanaian government and the German airliner.

“Today the chargé d'affaires of the embassy of Germany in Ghana, who had requested for a meeting met with us and other top officials of government, and when we put the matter across, they said that they would get to Lufthansa, so that as soon as possible they would resume their flights. So that’s the position so far,” she said.

Akuffo said there is an agreement for Lufthansa to pay some of the money it owes.

“What they have concluded so far is for the official liquidator to accept one million and two hundred thousand dollars, so that’s what is on the table. Again, the other issue is that they want to be assured that … they would still have the uses of the five frequencies. In the draft agreement, provision has been made that yes, you would continue to use the five additional frequencies, and that these would be secured during the next round of negotiations and bilateral air service agreement,” Akuffo noted.

She said she hopes Lufthansa would live up to its word the next time round.

“We have spoken to a responsible officer of their country. And I can assume that they would do what is right. But on our part, we have done nothing wrong we are comfortable to maintain a good relationship with Germany, as we have done in the years. So its up to them to live up to their word, I can only believe that they would do what is right,” he said.