Mr James Wooldridge, British Airways’ (BA) Commercial Manager for Ghana, says Ghana has benefitted greatly from the airline’s belief in investing in the communities in which they operate.
In a statement released to mark British Airways’ 75th anniversary in Ghana, which fell on Saturday October 13, Mr Wooldridge said: “It’s amazing to think that 75 years ago we were operating bi-planes that could carry seven passengers and the journey took over a week, when you consider that today we have daily flights a day that do the journey in about six hours.”
“We believe very strongly in investing in the communities we operate in, and Ghana has benefited greatly from such commitments over the past 75 years,” says Wooldridge.
As part of activities to mark the anniversary, the airline held a reception at the residence of the British High Commissioner for its clients and stakeholders on Thursday October 11. It was a trip down memory lane as models showcased BA crew uniforms over the years.
Mr Mark Simons, British Foreign Office Minister, said it’s been a great year for Britain with the Queen’s Jubilee celebration, hosting of the Olympics as well as the celebration of the achievement of BA.
He said many people in the UK regard the airline as a “national institution” and make regular use of it.
He said the BA would continue to invest in Accra and pledged his commitment as the new Foreign Office Minister, to ensure that relations between Ghana and the UK continue to thrive and develop.
The statement said BA Ghana began 75 years ago when a handful of passengers boarded a biplane for a one-week journey which would pioneer an air service that today still links Ghana and the United Kingdom.
“On 13 October 1937, the DH86 Diana class aircraft operated by Elders Colonial Airways on behalf of Imperial Airways arrived in Accra for the first time. This once-weekly service between Southampton and Accra took almost one week, involving nine stops between the UK and the Central African hub of Khartoum.
A couple of years later, the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) was formed under the BOAC Act, from the merger of Imperial Airways and British Airways Limited, a British airline that operated in Europe in the 1930s.
In 1974, the UK government dissolved BOAC and British European Airways to form the global carrier, British Airways, as we know it today. 1987 saw the airline privatised in a hugely oversubscribed flotation of shares on the London Stock Exchange, as well as the appointment of British Airways’ first women pilots.
In 2002, British Airways begun daily, non-stop flights between Accra and London on a Boeing 767 aircraft. The six-hour overnight flight is extremely popular for business travellers, who enjoy the convenience of a full working day in Ghana, and an early morning arrival for easy onward connection to other destinations” it added.
Today, British Airways operates to Ghana on a Boeing 777-200 aircraft with a four-class configuration, which features its innovative First (First Class) product, along with Club World (Business Class), World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) and World Traveller (Economy Class). Currently, British Airways is the only airline to offer a first class service in and out of Ghana, and its £100m investment into the improved product is proving extremely popular on the route.
Iberia, the Spanish national carrier, merged with British Airways in January 2011 to the International Airline Group and began twice-weekly operations to Ghana in July 2012, with Economy and Business Class Cabins on an Airbus A319 aircraft.
British Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, Keith Williams was recently in Ghana to support Flying Start, the airline’s partnership with UK charity, Comic Relief, which was launched two years ago to raise money around the world for good causes.
Flying Start hopes to raise £500,000 by the end of 2012 to vaccinate 100,000 Ghanaian children against deadly diseases.