Liberia’s Gold Star Air Conundrum: A Flawed Experiment in Mediocrity

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THE GHANAIAN Civil Aviation was simply raising the red flag about Goldstar to put Liberia on notice that it could risk safety and standard issues with international aviation organizations, should it allow Goldstar to operate in Liberia when its own host nation, has not given it the green light to be considered an airline.

IN ‘SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT’, Goldstar Air, a start-up company looking to launch an airline on the backs of Liberia, took FrontPageAfrica to task last week for what it says was a “Fake and Misleading Publication” regarding lingering questions which followed the controversial launching at the Roberts International Airport.

THE FRONTPAGEAFRICA investigative report, supported by a communication from the head of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, issued a word of caution to the head of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority(LCAA), Mr. Moses Kollie that the start-up company had not passed the smell test in its home country, Liberia’s next-door neighbors, Ghana.

THE COMMUNICATION signed by Mr. Charles Kraikue, Director-General, Ghana Aviation Authority to Mr. Kollie, dated Oct. 27, 2020 reads:

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.

LCAA DG KOLLIE had written the authorities in Ghana for input prior to the launching of the airline in Monrovia.

THE GHANAIAN Civil Aviation was simply raising the red flag about Goldstar to put Liberia on notice that it could risk safety and standard issues with international aviation organizations, should it allow Goldstar to operate in Liberia when its own host nation, has not given it the green light to be considered an airline.

DG KRAIKUE’S CAUTION is clear: “Goldstar Air has no Ghana AOC to operate as an airline.”

TO OUR DISMAY, the company’s CEO and Chairman, Mr. Eric Bannerman, in a statement last week, dismissing the FPA report wrote:

Our attention has been drawn to a publication by FrontPageAfrica.com concerning our partnering with Liberia Flag Carrier, Lone Star Air after the unveiling of the airline. We find this news fake, misleading and take serious view of this and want the general public to see it as such, since we are in the process of obtaining our operator’s certificate to operate our own aircraft. Goldstar Air is a wholly Ghanaian registered  Airline and has acquired its Air Carrier license(ACL).

The airline is on Phase 3 of the five-phase process to obtain the Air Operators Certificate(AOC). Phase 3 and Phase 4 is the presentation of the aircraft documents and inspection of the aircraft, maintenance base and training organizations .

The final phase which is phase 5 is the presentation ceremony of the Air Operator’s Certificate(AOC).

As a matter of fact, we have presented a letter to Ghana Civil Aviation Authority for the pre-inspection of our aircrafts, and we are still waiting for the confirmation date for the inspection of our aircrafts.

Goldstar Air is committed to building a State-of-the-Art and Trendsetting Aviation industry able to compete within the international market in terms of safety, quality, reliability, punctuality, efficiency and costs.

The President of Liberia, His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah wants to create decent jobs for his citizens and has no plans to compromise with safety issues or put the lives of the Liberian people at risk.

We are also aware that airline foreign companies will have to meet up with all the requirements in line with the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority(LCAA) including International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO) standards before being permitted to operate in the sector in Liberia.

Goldstar Air will therefore want the General Public to disregard the publication and look forward to an airline that will create jobs for growth.

FOR THE RECORD, FPA has no qualms about President Weahs’ vision to create jobs for Liberians. This was not the focus of our story.

OUR STORY WAS SIMPLY alerting authorities and Liberians to the fact that Goldstar Air is not licensed to operate as an airline,  a fact which could not be more clearer than what the head of the GCAA stated in his letter to Mr. Kollie.

THIS BEGS THE question: Wherein lies the “fake” and “Misinformation” in our report?

THE QUESTION IS SIMPLE: Is GOLDSTAR AIR in possession of an Air Operator’s Certificate(AOC)?

THE SIMPLE ANSWER IS NO!!!

IF THE ANSWER WAS anything else, the GCAA chief Kraikue would have notified his counterpart, Mr. Kollie right away.

SADLY, THERE WAS no other way to put it and Mr. Kraikue made it clear in his communication to Mr. Kollie.

After 173 years of independence, Liberia’s history of consistently settling for less when more is always on the table, remains intact, for all the wrong reasons because leaders and rulers, for the past 173 years have failed to see the big picture and always appear content with the benefits of the now, to the detriment of its own people.

EVERY LIBERIAN would love for the government to succeed. However, those at the helm of power must proceed the right way in order to project the right image that would make Liberia and Liberians proud.

GIVING A START-UP COMPANY like Goldstar Air, which has no history of performance and safety the right to launch a national airline bearing Liberia’s name is wrong – and Goldstar Air knows this.

QUITE RECENTLY, Ghana signed a Memorandum of Understanding with EgyptAir (MS, Cairo Int’l) as its strategic partner for the re-establishment of a new Ghanaian flag carrier.

THE MOU between Ghana’s Aviation Minister Joseph Kofi Adda and EgyptAir’s Deputy Chairperson Hassan Mounir was signed in Accra on October 21, 2020. The choice of EgyptAir as the preferred strategic partner follows a series of engagements between a senior management team of EgyptAir and a committee of aviation experts tasked by Ghana’s Ministry of Aviation. 

IN 2018, Ghana had signed a similar MoU with Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa) in terms of which the Ethiopian flag carrier would have contributed funding, equity, aircraft, and management services for a new Ghanaian national airline. However, the deal was held back due to disagreement over key issues such as routes, funding, and tenure of the management contract reported Aviation Ghana.

ACCORDING TO A REPORT by GhanaWeb, EgyptAir had presented a “remarkably more attractive proposal”. A shareholders’ agreement was still expected to be finalised in the coming weeks. The agreement would also need to be ratified by Ghana’s parliament. The government was expected to maintain a 10% shareholding in the new airline, with the majority of shares to be held by private investors.

EGYPTAIR CHAIRMAN and Chief Executive Officer Amr Abu El-Enein said: “We are pleased with the confidence of the Ghanaian government in choosing and preferring EgyptAir for this strategic partnership in establishing a new airline operating from its headquarter in Accra, with a network of routes throughout Africa, connecting it with countries in North and South America.”

EGYPT AIR, unlike Goldstar has a stellar history. Founded as a private company in May 1932, the airline went on to become the seventh airline in the world. In 1933, EgyptAir’s first flight departed from Cairo’s Almaza Airport to Alexandria.

On July 17th 2008, EGYPTAIR joined the Star Alliance network, the largest airline alliance in the world, to offer its customers better flight connections and more comfortable travel. EGYPTAIR’s membership to the Star Alliance network is unique in that it is the only airline that is based in North Africa and Middle East that is part of the network. 

THE COMPARISON HERE IS GLARING. Had Goldstar Air possess any of such experience, its own country, Ghana would have asked them to become its national carrier.

AT 173 YEARS of age, Liberia proudly holds the title as Africa’s oldest republic. Thus, it is important for leaders to understand the importance of avoiding the trappings of the past and strive for excellence rather than mediocrity.

GIVING A START-UP COMPANY such prestige at such a critical juncture in Liberia’s history paints a bleak picture for Liberia status in the comity of nations.

IT SUGGESTS THAT after 173 years of independence, Liberia’s history of consistently settling for less when more is always on the table, remains intact, for all the wrong reasons because leaders and rulers, for the past 173 years have failed to see the big picture and always appear content with the benefits of the now, to the detriment of its own people.

THE PLAY FOR GOLDSTAR AIR is flawed, is wrong and mediocre at best – even for the nation renowned for celebrating its best, as in the first African to win the World, European and African Footballer of the year in the same year; who ironically, now happens to be the head of state of Africa’s oldest republic.

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