Ghana International Airlines Contacts Barbados Free Press

Ghana International Airlines Disputes Comments By BFP Reader

We received the following email today from Ghana International Airlines about reader comments left on one of our articles.

That is the great thing about blogs – people who are impacted by the information on the blog can immediately have their point of view published in the same venue and read by the same audience. That is impossible with a dead-tree newspaper or television.

Now that the senior management of Ghana International Airlines is communicating with Barbados Free Press and Bajans here in public, perhaps our readers will have a few questions for them about what happened… ;-)

Let’s carefully read what GIA has to say, and then ask some polite questions in our comments sections.

Take it away, Ghana International Airlines…

Dear Sirs,

I write in rebuttal to the allegations raised by “Concerned Citizen” at…

http://barbadosfreepress.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/stranded-africans-were-promised-caribbean-jobs-at-us-ten-dollars-an-hour/#comment-245289

As the only “senior manager” from Ghana International Airlines who accompanied the charter flight to Barbados on 31 January 2008, it unfortunately appears that these allegations are directed at myself. While I can only speculate as to the sources and motives behind them, I can however correct and clarify factual discrepancies raised.

a) Neither myself nor, to my knowledge, any other employee of Ghana International Airlines was part of any alleged conspiracy to “funnel Africans” to the USA or Canada.

b) I have never been arrested in nor deported from the USA on the grounds of “involvement in people smuggling scams”.

c) I have never been investigated by police in the United Kingdom due to any association with “convicted pedophiles and fraudsters”.

d) The only cash payment made to a “local airport employee” while on the ground in Barbados was US$3429 paid to an employee of Seawell Air Services for landing and ground handling fees. Additional disbursement of US$1336.02 was made via credit card to Remac Tours Ltd. to account for hotel accommodation and ground transportation provided for the pilots. These are all documented disbursements for which receipts were issued and can be verified by contacting Messrs. Philip Corbin or Reynold MacLean at Seawell / Remac respectively.

e) No illicit arrangements were made to “secure the escape” of the aircraft. All paperwork was appropriately filed and clearances granted by the relevant authorities.

f) Ghana Police has been conducting a detailed investigation into the events surrounding the charter flight. Myself and other officials of the airline have been questioned, and have provided statements to assist in the police investigation. It is my understanding that multiple arrests have been made and charges filed against alleged offenders. It is not accurate to imply that the matter is not being treated seriously by the authorities in Ghana.

Kindly clarify or remove the above referenced comments at your earliest convenience. If you have further questions regarding the incident, please feel free to contact me at the details below.

Yours sincerely,
Sean Mendis

SEAN C. MENDIS
Special Asst. to the C.E.O.
Ghana International Airlines Limited
Accra Office : +233-21-213555
Accra Fax : +233-21-767744
Accra Mobile : (removed by BFP)
Europe Mobile : (removed by BFP)
Email : (removed by BFP)

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16 Comments

Filed under Africa, Aviation, Barbados Tourism, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ghana, Immigration, Nigeria, Traveling and Tourism

16 responses to “Ghana International Airlines Contacts Barbados Free Press

  1. 78

    Gosh! Where do you start to ask the right questions as there as so many?

    Only in the last few hours has the reference to charter flights to Barbados been removed from the Seasons Travel and Tours website.

    WHEN did the airline know that the aircraft that brought the group out to Barbados was going back to Icelandair?

    And bearing this in mind, with only one remaining aircraft HOW were they going to operate the return flight?

    Which other airline did they contract with to repatriate the group?

    When did the Sean Mendes or their airline representative notify the Civil Aviation Authority in Barbados that there would not be a return flight?

    Exactly what were the contractual obligations of Ghana International Airlines Ltd to the tour operator?

    Will Mr Sean Mendes name each and every person that has been charged and who they represent?

    More questions to follow!

  2. Bajanboy

    I, for one, appreciate Mr. Mendes taking the time to reply. I only wish government officials would be as open in discussing the issues that led up to this whole disgraceful incident. With no freedom of information in Barbados, Mr. Mendes, people are forced to speculate about really went on.

    Anonymous raises several interesting questions in the post above, and I hope Mr. Mendes can shed further light on the matter.

  3. Tony Hall

    Bajanboy,
    You cannot expect information to be released until an investigation is complete.You cannot expect to get piecemeal information while an investigation is going .

  4. Thank you to Barbados Free Press for providing the forum here to respond.

    I will not be able to provide information on some of these subjects (eg. the charges levied) as these are ongoing legal issues that the airline is not a party to. However a majority of the questions are straightforward and have actually been answered by myself or other spokespersons in a number of statements and interviews provided to both Ghana and Barbados media over the last 3 months.

    1. WHEN did the airline know that the aircraft that brought the group out to Barbados was going back to Icelandair? And bearing this in mind, with only one remaining aircraft HOW were they going to operate the return flight?
    A. The specific aircraft (TF-FIY) that operated the charter to Barbados was on short-term lease from Loftleidir Icelandic, a leasing subsidiary of Icelandair Group. Although it was returned to Loftleidir on 21FEB08, it was replaced by another short-term lease (TF-FIS) that same day, which in turn was replaced by a longer-term lease (TF-LLY) on 27MAR08 which remains in service with the airline to date. The airline remained operationally capable to operate the charter flight on a range of dates until 27MAR08, but was unable to operate beyond that time due to TF-LLY not being ETOPS certified (both TF-FIY and TF-FIS were ETOPS capable). ETOPS certification is required to operate a two-engined aircraft such as the Boeing 757 on routes that require the aircraft to fly more than 60 minutes flying time away from the nearest diversion airport. The flight schedules for this particular airframe provided a thrice weekly down-time in Accra on Mon, Wed and Fri between arrival from London at 0500z and departure back to London at 2340z that would have been used to operate a roundtrip between Accra and Bridgetown.

    2. Which other airline did they contract with to repatriate the group?
    A. It is my understanding from media reports in Ghana that the repatriation flight was operated by Miami Air International of the USA. However, Ghana International Airlines was not a party to that lease agreement.

    3. When did the Sean Mendes or their airline representative notify the Civil Aviation Authority in Barbados that there would not be a return flight?
    A. The airline notified the authorities in Barbados on 13FEB08 that the charterer (Seasons Travel and Tours) had not made the required payment for the flight scheduled to operate on 15FEB08 (see #4 below for further details on this). However, the airline continued to maintain that we were willing and able to operate a flight once the appropriate consideration was provided. A public statement was issued by our CEO to the Ghana News Agency on 19FEB08 reiterating this fact.

    4. Exactly what were the contractual obligations of Ghana International Airlines Ltd to the tour operator?
    A. The exact contractual obligations on both sides run into a long multi-page document, but in brief, the airline was contracted simply to provide an aircraft to fly between Ghana and Barbados for an agreed cost. All commercial aspects of the flight were to be handled by the charterer (Seasons Travel and Tours) who would pay a fixed sum for each flight by a specified period in advance. All seats on the flight, except for 2 Business Class seats blocked for crew rest purposes, were in the exclusive control of the charterer. The charterer explicitly accepted sole responsibility for repatriation of the passengers.

    5. Will Mr Sean Mendes name each and every person that has been charged and who they represent?
    A. I am unable to provide specifics on this issue due to the reasons outlined in the preamble, but I can however state that no employee of Ghana International Airlines has been either arrested or charged. The airline and its officials continue to cooperate with the authorities in their investigations.

    Thank you for your questions on this issue and I look forward to clarifying any other misconceptions that may exist on this subject.

  5. Twice Shy

    Tony Hall say “You cannot expect information to be released until an investigation is complete.You cannot expect to get piecemeal information while an investigation is going .”

    Tony, you are saying something that would normally be true. Your problem in selling that here in Barbados is that investigations are never finished and never made public so we don’t believe the authorities any longer. Think of all the inquiries, scandals and “forensic audits” that were commenced in the last ten years and then name one that was released to the public so they could read it themselves.

    Can you name one investigation where the results were released for the public to examine themselves?

    One?

  6. reality check

    twice shy

    exactly the same old same old—no transparency and no deadlines to report

    How on earth does a charterer get to leave Ghana without a deposit for a return flight? Once the people had paid for a full return trip and landed in Barbados, where did Ghana Airlines think the money was coming from for the second deposit? If the passengers hadn’t paid for a full return trip that would be another matter and cast doubt on the bona fides of the whole purpose of the flight.

    Every tourist visiting Barbados must state where they are staying and for how long. What do these entrance applications show and are they being amended by way of floating back up to protect the backs of those who should have been doing their jobs?

    Lets get a final date on the report or is that too much to ask a government elected for transparency and accountability?

    Let the report be given by the PM or the AG with his bureaucrats sitting by his side.

  7. liz

    Mr. Mendis
    d) The only cash payment made to a “local airport employee” while on the ground in Barbados was US$3429 paid to an employee of Seawell Air Services for landing and ground handling fees.

    I may be wrong but it is my understanding that it is standard practice for a charter airline to pay a deposit to the Barbados authorities in order to land at GAIA. (This to cover repatriation fees if failure to return occurs.)
    Did your airline pay a deposit in order to fly into Barbados?

  8. Q. I may be wrong but it is my understanding that it is standard practice for a charter airline to pay a deposit to the Barbados authorities in order to land at GAIA. (This to cover repatriation fees if failure to return occurs.)
    Did your airline pay a deposit in order to fly into Barbados?

    A. Thank you Liz for your question. As mentioned earlier, the airline was not the organiser of this charter flight and never issued any tickets. If the tickets had been issued by Ghana International Airlines, then the airline would have been responsible for the repatriation. However, this was not the case. The entire journey was organised and sold by the charterer directly to the end consumer without any involvement of the airline. Any responsibility for placing deposits or bonds lay with the charterer as they had full commercial responsibility for the entire journey. The airline was simply the provider of one transportation component for a fixed fee (analogous to a taxi or bus driver), and that too was contracted with the charterer and not the end user. Indeed, the end user was not even aware that they would be flying on a GIA aircraft until the day of the flight itself.

    The referenced payments made to Seawell Air Services covered operational costs related to the flight and as such, were the responsibility of the airline.

    I hope this clarifies things.

  9. ROBOT

    i am beginning to think that this blog is serving a good purpose

    i am still a bit skeptical about the agenda of the blog owners with regard to politics

    i am not in agreement with the attacks on the former administration and i do not believe many of the accusations that i see from time to time re owen seymour arthur and others. my reason is that i did not see or hear anything raised by the opposition in floor of parliament accusing the government of any of these things for 14 years in office. probabbly only the hardwood situation and in the budget reply when david thompson accused arthur of receiving money in his name for the party.

    BUT i believe that this blog is beginning to show its worth–at least to me

  10. Bajanboy

    This article on BFP shown how blogs have the potential to simply blow traditional media away.

  11. crossroads

    dis world small boy!

  12. JC

    I love the blogs. Who evver is in charge keep doing a great job. You have made think and ponder a lot.

  13. reality check

    “Any responsibility for placing deposits or bonds lay with the charterer as they had full commercial responsibility for the entire journey. The airline was simply the provider of one transportation component for a fixed fee (analogous to a taxi or bus driver), and that too was contracted with the charterer and not the end user. Indeed, the end user was not even aware that they would be flying on a GIA aircraft until the day of the flight itself.”

    How does a National Airlines get to contract out its liability 100%?

    It should not unless it gets 100% payment up front and can guarantee the return trip. Its reputation is on the line and in this case, it appears it never had one.

    On the other side of the coin, Barbados should insist on 100% bond from a charterer and the Tour company when they don’t have a well earned reputation.

    This way the taxpayer is not left holding the bag.

  14. liz

    Reality Check
    if the normal practice is 100% bond before a plane lands (which is what I am told) who is responsible for allowing the flight to land in Barbados?

  15. debbie adeola

    please can you give me a full details of scheduled day for flight to Barbados from Ghana , the fees, and necessary document. thank you

  16. PiedPiper

    ummmm Debbie, I don’t think any planes will be coming to Barbados from Ghana anytime soon. :-0

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