Ghana and its eastern neighbours, Togo and Benin, have amicably resolved their differences over control of the Accra Flight Information Region (FIR).
The internationally designated Accra Flight Information Region (FIR) refers to the combined upper airspace (240 feet and above) and large portions of the Atlantic Ocean of Ghana, Togo, and Benin.
The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has managed the Accra FIR on behalf of the three countries for decades. However, Togo and Benin in 2014 threatened to quit the Accra FIR over management and economic concerns.
Simon Allotey, Director-General of the GCAA, told the B&FT that the issue has been resolved and all parties are committed to the current arrangement.
“The original arrangement was that Ghana, Togo and Benin will co-manage the Accra FIR from Accra. Later on it was varied at the request of our Togolese and Béninoise brothers. They want to be part of the Accra FIR, which they are; but then the FIR will be segmented into two with Ghana managing the terrestrial airspace and the entire oceanic sector, while from Lomé they will manage the Togolese and Béninoise airspace.
“So far it is working very well. There is a lot of coordination between the Accra and Lomé centres. The arrangement has been operating smoothly since June 25, 2015.
“Revenue sharing has been resolved effectively. Basically, whoever controls a sector takes the revenue accruing from that sector. Togo and Benin bills the airlines directly for flights over their airspace and Ghana also does the same,” Ing. Allotey said.
The internationally designated Accra Flight Information Region (FIR), prior to the new arrangement, was managed by the GCAA on behalf of the three countries.
However, revenue accruing from management of the Accra FIR went into the coffers of GCAA; with no share of the proceeds paid to either Togo or Benin.
Air navigation charges for all international flights over four tonnes operating within the Accra FIR as at 2010 were charged US$0.75 per kilometre flown. The minimum charge within the Accra FIR is US$200 and a maximum of US$600.
Aircraft with weight between 4-20 tonnes are charged a US$200 flat-rate.
International aircraft movement to and from the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) at the end of last year stood at 21,269 — giving an indication of the revenue at stake.
International airlines operating flights to and from Accra initially raised concerns about fragmenting the Accra FIR, as they thought it would mean using three different control towers during flights within the region.
With the current arrangement, airlines which use the terrestrial airspace of all three countries will have to deal with two control towers.