Liberia Civil Aviation Authority Putting Lives at Risk by Ignoring Red Flags Lone Star Air

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THE GEORGE MANNEH WEAH-LED government last week launched what it described as the first-ever post-war airline for Liberia called “Lone Star Air (Wings of Liberia)”.

IN LAUNCHIING THE AIRLINE, the government is hoping to make Liberia a destination of choice and an aviation in the West African sub-region.

WHILE THE NEWS on paper appears to be welcoming, a FrontPageAfrica investigation has found that the airline, Goldstar Air has not even gotten the greenlight to operate in the country from which it originates.

IN FACT, the company, according to the Ghanaian Civil Aviation Authority(GCAA), after being granted the license to operate, has failed to fulfill certain conditions as set out under the License.

GOLD STAR, according to its website is a wholly-owned Ghanaian Airline based in Accra, Ghana with ambitions of providing scheduled and non-scheduled passenger air service initially to twelve destination in USA, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa.

Goldstar Air also claims to be  a strategic partner of Ethiopian Airlines and the Government of Liberia. The company slogan is Wings of Ghana.

DESPITE THE GOVERNMENT’S effort, FrontPageAfrica has learned that the airline Gold Star did not pass the smell test in Ghana.

DURING THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, it was the signing of 66 concession agreements without legislative oversight. Now, Africa’s oldest republic have been relegated to imaginary airline and models of cake for an air service. This is bad and whoever is responsible for this should has no shame and should be nowhere near the Liberian presidency or the president who governs.

A COMMUNICATION SIGNED by Mr. Charles Kraikue, Director-General, Ghana Aviation Authority dated Oct. 27, 2020 now in possession of FrontPageAfrica states that the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority was cautioned by its counterpart, the Ghanaian Civil Aviation Authority regarding safety issues concerning Gold Star. Simply put: the airlines did not pass the smell test, and in fact has been dubbed as an imaginary airline by authorities in Ghana because it does not even have a plane.

WHEN GUESTS showed up for the inaugural flight and ceremony  last Friday, the plane was no where to be found.

INDUSTRY OBSERVERS SAY IT is rare for a new airline to have such a program without the plane on ground or a test flight.

THE COMMUNICATION from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, warned its Liberia counterpart about safety concerns regarding a new airline launched in Liberia.

THE COMMUNICATION READS:

Attention: Chief Moses Y. Kollie


Dear Sir,


RE: GOLDSTAR AIR (ACL)


I hope this letter finds you well and to thank you for the compliments. Reference is made to your letter AA20/DG/010-014 dated 23rd October 2020 with attachments.


Records available to my office in response to the subject matter indicates that, Goldstar Air after having been issued with the Air Carrier License ACL has not fulfilled certain conditions as set out under the License. I wish therefore to state that Goldstar Air has no Ghana AOC to operate as an airline.


Goldstar commenced the AOC certification process but at the 3rd phase, the process was suspended due to inability to fulfill certain requirements of the process.


The Authority is therefore awaiting Goldstar Air to re-apply for commencement of the process before AOC is issued in the category as specified under the ACL.


Please accept the assurances of my deepest consideration.


Sincerely,


ING. CHARLES KRAIKUE

DIRECTOR-GENERAL

CC: AG. DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL (TECHNICAL) DIRECTOR, SAFETY REGULATION

MR. KRAIKUE’S communication was in response to a request from the LCAA seeking input from the country of origin regarding the new air service. it now appears, the LCAA, when informed by its Ghanaian counterpart declined to take the advice and went ahead with the launching last Friday.

THIS IS NOT THE FIRST time, the government of Ghana has raised a red flag regarding Gold Star. In 2017, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) issued an advisory notice warning the general public not to conduct any business with either of local start-up Goldstar Airlines (Accra) or the US-based virtual carrier, Global Ghana Airlines (Chicago O’Hare).

IN THE NOTICE,  the regulator said it had noted advertisements flighted by either firm for commercial flights connecting Ghana with other parts of the world despite neither possessing an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).


SAID THE GCAA: “The … advertisements are misleading and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority takes a very serious view of this,” GCAA Director General, Simon Allotey, said. “In light of the above, the general public is hereby advised not to conduct any business with these companies, as they do not have the necessary approvals from the GCAA to commence such air operations.”

MR. ERIC BANNERMAN, CEO of Goldstar Airlines CEO, at the time claimed that Allotey’s statement was “misleading” and contended that although his start-up was still in the process of securing its AOC, the fact that it has an Air Services Licence (ASL) is proof enough that it is “duly certified”.  Bannerman said: “It is a plot to tarnish our image with a non-existent airline.”

THE GOLD STAR FIASCO bears similarities to the controversial Weasua Air Transport which was shut down by the LCAA in 2006 over safety and airworthiness grounds. The shutdown was part of the LCAA’s annual successive annual progress report that year.

PRIOR TO THE ARRIVAL of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s ascendance to the Liberian Presidency, a safety audit conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) booked Liberia of more than 117 deficiencies including gun-running, illegal  registration of unsafe aircraft, poor safety conditions and overall noncompliance with ICAO minimum standards.

THIS PROMPTED THE LCAA to shutdown Weasua Airways in 2006 for operating what was then referred to as flying coffins. Weasua management ran to the Supreme Court but lost the case after on grounds that all aircraft on its registry were not airworthy.

INDUSTRY OBSERVERS FEAR that while the idea of having a Liberia Airways is appealing, any attempt to ignore  ICOA Standards and Recommended Practices will severely impact Liberia tourism and transportation sectors.

THE LCAA UNDER former President Sirleaf had made some strides by taking appropriate corrective actions on deficiencies outlined in ICAO Safety Audit. Those steps, some say may suffer setbacks in the wake of the controversy surrounding Goldstar’s attempt to fly Liberia’s skies.

THE COALITION OF AIRLINES Pilots Association which helps travelers identify new business opportunities and make better business decisions, by providing accurate and up-to-date data on airports, airlines, suppliers, investors, MROs, lessors and countries/territories around the world, reports that Goldstar Air was expected to commence service operations in the third quarter of 2017, after it received an air carrier certificate from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority for scheduled and non-scheduled services to 11 international destinations in Dec-2016. 

THE FLIGHTS HOWEVER failed to take off because of the red flags raised by the GCAA.

CAPA REPORTS THAT the carrier had leased one Boeing 767, one 777 and one 737 aircraft and planned to operate services to destinations in West Africa, as well as Baltimore, Guangzhou, Dubai and London Gatwick services using the leased equipment. Since then however, a revised launch date had not been specified, until it surfaced in Liberia.

PRESIDENT WEAH’S ADVISORS must be wary of rushing to put out good news without conducting thorough background checks.

THE FAILURE of the President’s advisors to probe Goldstar operations in its home country, Ghana speaks volume. As a result, the Liberian presidency has been embarrassed once more just as it was during the ill-fated Eton and Ebomaf loan deals.

GOLDSTAR AIR, previously known as Goldstar Airlines, is a Ghanaian start-up air service that ever took off and has no plane to showcase which is why President Weah was forced to attend a program with only diagrams and a cake to show.

THE GHANAIAN CIVIL AVIATION’s letter is clear: That even though Goldstar Air was granted a license  and issued with the Air Carrier License ACL, it has not fulfilled certain conditions as set out under the terms of the License.

THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION is, why is Liberia opening its doors to a start-up airline with no Ghana AOC to operate as an airline?

WHY DID President Weah’s advisors allow him to go through such pathetic display without an actual plane?

THE PRESIDENT’S ADVISORS have ignored all international safety rules regarding aviation and settle for a lousy experiment on a road to nowhere.

WHY MUST LIBERIA always become the laughingstock of the world.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, what was the urgency of having such a program without an airplane on the day a high-ranking Cabinet Minister died?

DURING THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, it was the signing of 66 concession agreements without legislative oversight. Now, Africa’s oldest republic have been relegated to imaginary airline and models of cake for an air service. This is bad and whoever is responsible for this should has no shame and should be nowhere near the Liberian presidency or the president who governs.

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