The Presidency has debunked the claim that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s travel to Belgium and Rwanda to attend the 15th edition of the European Development Days Forum and the 26th Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations, cost the nation €480,000.00.
The Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, posted on his Facebook wall that “President Akufo-Addo incorrigibly rents €20,000 an hour ACJ319 ultra-luxury jet, registered D-ALEX from German operator — K5 Aviation.
According to him, the President’s trip to Belgium and subsequently to Rwanda were aboard an Airbus ACJ319, registered D-Alex, and that “the 480,000 Euros which is derived from 21 hours of total flight time plus other industry charges works out to some 4.1million Ghana Cedis at the current exchange rate.”
But in a press statement issued on Friday by the Communications Director at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin said President Akufo-Addo left Ghana for Brussels, Belgium onboard Air France Commercial Flight (AF0584), which departed Accra on Sunday at 7:20 pm, made a stop-over in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and then to Paris.
“All of President Akufo-Addo’s 12-member delegation travelled commercial,” the release stated.
Upon arrival in Paris, the statement said, President Akufo-Addo and his delegation travelled via train to Brussels to attend the European Development Days event and later held meetings with the President of the European Investment Bank on the financial assistance to Ghana for the Development Bank Ghana and the construction of a vaccine manufacturing plant in Ghana.
According to the release, before the President departed from Accra to Brussels, Ghana’s Mission in Brussels had sent notice of an impending strike in the aviation sector in Belgium to the Presidency and the Foreign Ministry.
On 17th June, unionised Brussels Airline workers, including pilots and crew, embarked on a strike from 23rd June to Saturday, 25th June.
As the strike will result in the cancellation of 300 flights, including those from Brussels to Kigali, Belgium’s largest airport, Brussels Airport, cancelled all outgoing flights on Monday, 20th June, the day President Akufo-Addo arrived in Brussels.
With prior notice to the Presidency regarding the strike action, the option for the President to travel using a direct commercial flight from Brussels to Kigali was not available. “Thus, the decision was taken to charter a flight for President Akufo-Addo and his entourage to make the 8h 40min flight from Brussels to Kigali on Wednesday, 22nd June.”
That, according to the release, was taken to ensure that the President made it to Kigali on time to participate in the ground-breaking ceremony on 23rd June for the commencement of work on the Pan-African Vaccine Manufacturing Project, which involved Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal and BioNTech SE, as well as attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which also is being held in Kigali, Rwanda.
“I do not think the Member of Parliament for North Tongu is suggesting in any shape or form that the President, given these challenges in Brussels and also because of the President’s security, should have travelled from Brussels to Amsterdam or London, for example, in the forlorn hope of trying to get a flight to Rwanda,” the release stated.
Travels to Kigali for CHOGM have been problematic, which resulted in RwandAir, the national airline of Rwanda, to organised a special flight to convey Commonwealth High Commissioners from London to Kigali to enable them to participate in the Summit.
“The First Lady arrived in Kigali on Wednesday, 22nd June, using the Presidential Jet, because the plan was that the President and some members of his delegation, together with the First Lady, will use the Presidential Jet to make the 4hr, 45mins return flight from Kigali to Accra on Saturday, 25th June 2022.”
For trips within Africa, and trips that did not last for more than six hours, the President used the Presidential Jet for those trips.
“One such trip to be undertaken by the President, where the Presidential Jet is to be used, will be on Sunday, 26th June, where he will travel to Lisbon, Portugal, to attend the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, and return home on Wednesday, 29th June,” the statement ended.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD