British Airways rescinds decision - Listening ear

BY: Vicky Wireko

If British Airways (BA) was a Ghanaian politician, we would be describing it as a listening opposition or government. Why? It has rescinded its decision on moving its Accra-London flights from Heathrow to Gatwick Airport.

Sometime last year, the argument backward and forward raged on after BA announced that its Accra-London flights were going to disembark from Gatwick instead of its current location of Heathrow.

Admittedly, Heathrow is a more accessible airport for flight connections and also into London or other parts of the United Kingdom (UK).

The move was to commence this March. However, according to sources from GH-Aviation and sighted on social media, the decision has been reversed.

Passengers on the Accra-London route will disembark at their original terminal at Heathrow.

Initially, on social media, many Ghanaian travellers who patronise BA expressed fury at the decision, describing it as least thoughtful.

Some even said BA was reducing the worth of travellers on that route and indirectly telling them that their business was insignificant.

Good business

Yet, a few years ago, BA must have found the business on this same route good enough for its operations otherwise why would they have increased the number of flights from Accra to seven days a week.

At one point, they even crowded out competition for direct flights to and from London.

Heathrow is said to be the second busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic standards.

In the UK, that is where majority of the world's airlines fly to and from. Therefore, connecting to other parts of the world or catching the train to other parts of London and beyond, within the UK, are more convenient.

Pushing travellers from Ghana to another corner away from all these conveniences has been interpreted to mean ungratefulness.

Their initial decision, though aborted, still needs to be put into perspective and analysed. It beats imagination as to why the airline, every now and then, tries to box the business from this end to a corner, sending wrong signals.

It took BA a very long time to consider giving travellers on its Accra-London route two free checked in bags.

This was when the other European flights into Accra were already giving passengers two free checked in bags.

Retired aircrafts

Again for a long time, BA consistently put on the Accra route, seemingly old retired aircrafts with unfriendly seats and toilets.

These aircrafts many a time developed faults leading to cancellation or delay of flights, thus giving the route consistent unreliable schedules.

Compared to the airline's carriers and services to the East Coast of America, it is always enchanting flying from Heathrow to New York or Newark.

The aircrafts on those routes are some of the best considering size, seats, onboard entertainment, toilet facilities and many more.

The services on board are incomparable with friendly and polite flight attendants.

Yet the flight time to and from Accra is about the same for flights to New York and Newark for example.

And by the way, fares to and from Accra are much higher than fares from London to those destinations.

The worst of the treatments to passengers on the Accra route was when in 2016- 2017, BA moved the terminal for the Accra flights from the plush ­Terminal 5 at Heathrow to some corner in Terminal 3.

So, BA passengers from Accra have had their lows with an airline that publicly in 2017, marking 80 years of business in Ghana, declared to the world how proud they were of their association with the country.

They even then declared Ghana as one of their best business alliances on the continent and promised to “spoil travellers to and from Accra”.

Thankfully, the relationship has not degenerated. It continues to grow and blossoming to maturity. That, perhaps is the reason why the reported back and forth discussions between the Ghana government and officials of the British Airline has yielded good results in the planned move to Gatwick.

The respect to continue to do business with Ghana is reflected in the said negotiations that went on behind the scenes between both parties. A listening ear, BA has turned out to be.

One can only hope that they will allow and encourage consultations to continue to pave the way for more improvements on the Accra-London route and to attract even more passengers.

A relationship so treasured and worth its salt needs to be nurtured at all times.

Thank you BA for being a listening airline.

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