Ghana Threatens To Effectively Ban British Airways Because They Don’t Like London Gatwick Airport

Ghana’s aviation ministry is continuing the long tradition of African governments complaining about British Airways. This time they’re unhappy that BA plans to operate its Accra flight to London’s Gatwick airport instead of Heathrow.

British Airways believes 82% of passengers on its Ghana flights are traveling for leisure, and operates key leisure routes out of Gatwick. Of course right now all travel in and out of London is mostly either critical business or visiting friends and relatives.

Ghana’s government is offended they weren’t consulted, and believes this treats its citizens as less valuable – and is threatening “reciprocal action” in response.

For the avoidance of doubt, we are unable to accept the change in the London-Accra-London flights originating from Gatwick Airport.

We are not convinced about the reasons for the movement of the Accra-bound BA service from Heathrow to Gatwick Airport and thus strongly object to the changes.

In this regard, we wish to state unequivocally, that the Ghanaian authorities will advise itself and take a reciprocal action on behalf of our passengers in the coming days if our call for British Airways to rescind its decision on the movement to Gatwick Airport is not heeded.

Reciprocal action would seem to mean forcing British Airways to use a different airport in Ghana, in response to their decision to use a different airport in the U.K. Their only option I think would be Kumasi Airport – over 100 miles away – which while technically an international airport pre-pandemic was only seeing domestic flights to Accra. In other words, they’d effectively be banning British Airways from the country which would hardly advantage their citizens or economy.

Of course this is hardly the first public row between he government and BA. Ghana’s Minister of Aviation publicly took on British Airways three years ago over bed bugs, and flying to Heathrow terminal 3 from Accra rather than using the newer terminal 5.

This came a year after Ghana’s President lashed out at BA over its service,

  • flying old 747s to Accra
  • use Heathrow terminal 3 instead of terminal 5
  • “the general quality of services” offered by the British flag carrier

Mind you terminal 3 isn’t nearly as bad, even needing a connection, as when BA operated terminal 1 bus gates. And it’s not obvious how the BA 777 product was better than what they offered on their 747s. More seats on the 747s meant lower prices, too!

Still, these complaints perhaps aren’t nearly as petty as a Nigerian cabinet minister calling out BA for delivering London pizza to wealthy residents of his country at a time they were trying to reduce their trade deficit.

While BA’s 747 from Heathrow to Lagos arrived just before dinner time in that nation’s capital, it wasn’t exactly clear that this was really happening – which service was managing the delivery, that anyone would want to put food in British Airways cargo, or why indeed you couldn’t get good pizza in Lagos?

(HT: One Mile at a Time)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @Gary: African nations disgust with BA is well-founded. In Britain they say BA stands for “Bloody Awful”.

  2. Have a typo, state that they were upset that BA flights are going through T3 instead of the new T3. And I assume you mean T5 as the comments were 3 years ago.

  3. Hilarious that African nation-states that can’t field viable airlines of their own have the audacity to complain about the European and American carriers that provide them with service. Remember Nigeria whining about Delta downgauging to 767s a few years ago?

    If Ghana’s miniscule cadre of corrupt, inept elites are so offended by the prospect of Gatwick service, maybe they could fly Ghana Airways to Heathrow instead. Wait, that’s right, Ghana Airways was a complete cesspool of graft and corruption (like 95% of all African airlines) and was finally put out of its misery (like 95% of all African airlines.) Maybe Ghana’s “minister of aviation” should focus on an aviation policy for her country that includes a bit more self-sufficiency if she feels this strongly about London airports.

    Then again, it’s Africa, that perpetual victim of a continent that’s spent the better part of 75 years proving it’s completely incapable of taking care of itself. Much easier to sit back and blame the First World for all your ills.

  4. This story was put together in a rush. Was poorly researched and poorly written. In your rush to ridicule you seem to have just made an ass of yourself.
    A lot of these complaints have a good basis.

  5. Well, finally someone is speaking the truth.

    And it’s not BA, because there is no way that 82% of travelers during the pandemic and quarantine requirements are traveling for “leisure”.

  6. What a condescending article! It seems that you think Ghana shouldn’t have a say and that they are wrong in how they are reacting to BA’s plans. The flights to Ghana are/were mostly always packed, contributing to the economy and to BA coffers. Ghana has a right to show their indignation and to make their decision same way BA has done.

  7. Kumasi was not “technically” an international airport. It is not a designated airport of entry, period. There are no customs or immigration facilities at the airport and it was delisted as an international airport in 2018. The new terminal due to open this year will have a permanent inspection facility for international flights, but even then the runway/apron are too short, narrow and weak to accommodate widebodies.

    However Tamale airport in the Northern Region, while also not designated as an airport of entry presently, has a 12000 ft runway suitable for widebodies, and also has a history of accepting 747s for Hajj flights over the last few years. That is the only other airport besides Accra that is capable of accepting widebodies in Ghana. The airports in Takoradi, Sunyani, Wa and Ho are suitable for turboprops and regional jets at most.

  8. FYI Gary, the “Ministry of Aviation” has been disbanded following the release of this statement and the erstwhile minister (not the one in the video – she has been running sanitation instead for the last 3 years) is no longer a member of cabinet.

  9. British Airways has it’s issues and certainly isn’t perfect. However, they don’t have to service Ghana. Full stop.

  10. I feel like if the Ghanian Ministry of Aviation had Priority Pass memberships issued through Chase or Citi and they could get credit at The Grain Store at LGW, they’d be perfectly happy with BA’s decision.

  11. I used to fly to Ghana for business and it really would have been awful to connect through Gatwick. Ghana has a right to be very angry. BA is going to put them in a position where you can’t get there from here. Just look at flights from DFW – Gatwick and how you would have to get there. You get to choose a 3 stop routing through Mexico City, or maybe a a different 3 stop through Casablanca. Shortest duration is 35 hrs. So, if you want to oppress a country, just cut off their route to a viable international hub.

  12. @Jim L – There are 1-stop options from DFW-ACC via JFK (Delta), Dulles (United/SAA), Dubai (Emirates) and Paris (Air France) in addition to the BA service.

    In fact, the only international connecting destination from Accra that was served by BA over Heathrow where no other 1-stop connection exists is Gibraltar. That market has an average of 0.05 passengers per day (totally 19 passengers each way per year), so probably not a major driving factor either way.

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