British Airways rows back on plan to switch Accra flights to Gatwick

Simon Calder
·2-min read
First place: British Airways aircraft at Heathrow (Simon Calder)
First place: British Airways aircraft at Heathrow (Simon Calder)

British Airways has bowed to pressure from the government of Ghana and rowed back on a plan to switch Accra flights from Heathrow to Gatwick.

The move was due to take effect on 28 March.

When BA revealed its intention to shift the route from its main London hub to the Sussex airport, Ghana’s Ministry of Aviation called the decision “unacceptable”. The government threatened to reciprocate by forcing the airline to use an airport 100 miles from Accra.

“The Ghanaian authorities will advise itself and take a reciprocal action on behalf of our passengers in the coming days if our call for British Airways to rescind its decision on the movement to Gatwick airport is not heeded,” officials said in January.

BA could have been diverted to Ghana’s second city, Kumasi, around 100 miles northwest by road from the capital.

But a spokesperson for the airline now says: “We keep our network under constant review and will be continuing our long-running service to Accra from London Heathrow.”

Gatwick is twice as far from the centre of London than Heathrow, and is less convenient for travellers from most of the UK – whether travelling by air or land.

The move from Heathrow would have sharply reduced the range of onward connections that passengers from Ghana could make.

At present Gatwick has little more than a skeleton service for flights, while Heathrow has many daily departures on routes to North America, Asia and Continental Europe.

The only changes on the BA link from 28 March will be a slightly later departure from Heathrow in early afternoon and a slightly earlier overnight journey from Accra.

The news was greeted with jubilation. Adjoba Kyiamah, executive director of the UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce, tweeted: “Pleased to receive the news that British Airways has rescinded this decision.”

Like Heathrow, Accra’s Kotoka International Airport was a Second World War RAF base that became a civilian facility in 1946.

Virgin Atlantic shared the Heathrow-Accra route with BA until 2013, when it pulled out blaming “exceptionally high fuel costs” at the West African airport.

British Airways is also keeping its link with Islamabad at Heathrow rather than switching it to Gatwick.

Sean Moulton, the airline schedule analyst, said: “With the global travel restrictions ongoing, focusing on traffic from friends and family instead of business will be evident throughout 2021 and could be something we see more of in the years to come.”

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