This year proved to be the hardest for Ghanaian travelers as it started with the volcanic ash, continued with Ghana International crises (once the cheapest direct airline to Accra) and moved ahead with British Airway’s strikes, the second only direct flight. In one way or other, the remaining airlines were hardly coping to tackle the ever increased number of travels this summer and issues of seat availability and high fares were on fire even way before the peak season started.
Fortunately, on May 25, 2010 Virgin Atlantic launched its new route to Ghana. It came as blessing for many that, finally there is an airline they can trust and get their flights direct, there is also a little disappointment as a large number of travelers expects fares to be some where close to those offered by Ghana International. The cheapest fares on Air Afriqiyah, from London to Gatwick are some where close to that, however as the airline is indirect, so acquires little popularity or favorability among Ghanaian travelers.
The new service of Virgin Atlantic between Ghana and London surely is benefited by the British Airways strikes and Ghana International crises equally. Virgin had seen a 10% increase in Upper Class passengers since the first strikes started in March. Even apart from that the airline carries a good reputation and appreciation by dint of its 5 star rated services. On its first year of service it is expected to carry around 60,000 passengers to Accra Ghana. Although as British Airways strikes are only temporary crises, in long run Virgin will be in clear fight with British Airways for direct flights to Accra.
Virgin Atlantic has a successful record of short haul as well as long haul flights between London and top visited African destinations including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Lagos, Nairobi and now Accra. However there will be only three flights to Accra as initially announced by the airline, using an Airbus A340-300 with 240 seats onboard – 34 upper class, 35 premium economy and 171 economy.
Virgin Atlantic received a warm and heartily welcome after its first land in Ghana. The president Mr. Branson was presented with bouquets and flowers and latterly entertained with colorful cultural dances. President Virgin Atlantic, Mr. Branson stated: “Ghana has one of West Africa’s most vibrant and diverse economies and Virgin Atlantic’s flights will help further Ghana’s leading position within West Africa by making it more accessible to business and leisure passengers alike”.
Ghanaian transport minister Mike Hammah said: “The commencement of operations into Ghana by Virgin Atlantic marks a significant milestone in the annals of the air travel industry in our country.
The airline is proving to be the first choice for UK customers willing to fly to Ghana on a five star alliance airline. The competition is ruff however Virgin so far has been winning grounds through its hospitality, competitive fares and considerable reasonable and cheap flights to Accra.