The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is optimistic of an increase in trade volumes between Ghana and the Gulf States as Doha based Qatar Airways plans to commence its operations in Ghana.

The airline has concluded its discussions with authorities and is planning its first flight for April, when it will become the second Gulf carrier to operate commercial flights to the market after Emirates, which is already operating daily flights.

“As they come in, they are bringing in businesses. They already have commenced cargo flights, and now that we are promoting Public Private Partnerships, the passenger flights from April will also help our business outlook,’’ said Abdulai Alhassan, CEO of the GCAA.

He affirmed that the plans would add to Ghana’s credibility as a conducive business destination, and that this second link to the Gulf would increase competition in airfares for passengers, and result in a long-term increase in air traffic and corresponding revenue.

At the turn of the year, Qatar Airways Cargo commenced a twice-weekly freighter service to Lagos in Nigeria and Accra in Ghana, and Ulrich Ogiermann, Qatar Airways chief cargo officer, noted the “huge potential in the West African states of Nigeria and Ghana.”

Akbar Al-Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, added: “Africa has huge potential and is the world’s most under-served region due to the impediment put in place by most governments.”

Following a state visit to Doha by Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama — the first by a sitting Ghanaian president — announced plans for the launch of an embassy in Qatar.

His statement read: “Qatar’s development path and experiences offer valuable lessons for Ghana’s economic transformation, in view of the commonality between the two nations, especially in the oil and gas sector, petro-chemicals, hospitality, education and agribusiness.”

Reaching out

During the last quarter of 2014, Qatar Airways also launched commercial flights to both Asmara in Eritrea and the first flights by a major Gulf carrier to Djibouti, which CCO Marwan Koleilat noted would “opens doors to even stronger business ties and supports greater commercial development.”

Last September, Qatar Airways additionally moved to strengthen its presence in South Africa, taking steps to increase the frequency and variety of flights to the country and offering a non-stop route to Cape Town for the first time, adding to a thrice-weekly service via Johannesburg.

In Kenya, Kilimanjaro International Airport has attributed its recent 24% increase in passenger traffic this year to around 1,055,000 passengers in 2014, compared with 850,000 passengers in 2013, to the 2012 introduction of routes by Qatar Airways and Turkish Airways.