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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Ghana Airways seeks outside help
Ghana Airways aeroplane
Ghana Airways is suffering, with the rest of the aviation industry
Ghana's state-owned airline is going to have to find a foreign partner if it is to stay in the air, its boss has said.

The airline, founded shortly after Ghana won independence from the UK, is $160m in debt, chairman Sam Jonah said.

"There aren't any soft options," Mr Jonah said.

"Any day, any of the creditors can bring this ship down.

"Let's not kid ourselves. Every day the airline takes off, the debt deepens."

Collateral

One British creditor has already seized a Ghana Airways plane at London's Heathrow airport.

"They let it go only after we managed to pay $1m," Mr Jonas said.

"But at the end of this month we have to cough up $1.5m, and then next month too, and frankly we don't know where we're going to find it."

The airline is hoping for rescue through one of two joint ventures currently under discussion.

One proposal involves Swiss-British company Triaton, the other a Beirut-based concern called T&E Aviation.

Under pressure

Unlike Western airlines, Ghana Airways' troubles do not stem primarily from a slump in passenger numbers following the 11 September terror attacks.

Many African airlines have run up debts, but the overall downturn in the aviation business has left creditors less ready to be flexible with repayments.

Air Afrique, an 11-nation operation, owed about $260m when it collapsed earlier this year.

Mr Jonas saw Ghana Airways being recapitalised by the government.

Alternatively, an $80m government loan could be converted into equity, allowing new loans to be sought, Mr Jonas added.

See also:

08 May 02 | Business
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03 May 02 | Business
27 Feb 02 | Business
07 Feb 02 | Africa
06 Feb 02 | Business
01 Feb 02 | Business
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