Wow: Ghana plans to ban all planes over 20 years old from its airspace

The Delta Air Lines saga in Ghana continues, which could soon spill over to other carriers if a new proposal gains traction that would ban all aircraft over 20 years old from Ghana’s airspace.

Ghana is now considering banning all aircraft over 20 years old from its airspace

After a trouble-ridden Boeing 767-300 was repeatedly used to fly between New York (JFK) and Accra (ACC), the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) banned this particular aircraft from its airspace and asked Delta to stop flying the 767 altogether to Ghana. Even so, outrage grew that Delta would use such a troubled plane, with some accusations of racism being leveled at Delta even though it uses the same plane to serve destinations in Europe and the United States. A lawsuit was also threatened.

> Find out more: Bizarre Delta Air Lines Ghana Flight Invites Formal Complaint, Threat of Lawsuit
> Find out more: Ghana bans Delta 767-300 from flying to Accra

Now, the GCAA will soon issue a directive that will block the flight and import of any commercial aircraft that has been in Ghana for 20 years. Charles Kraikue, the chief executive of the GCAA, explained:

“Following persistent complaints from passengers, we will soon be issuing a new directive that will prevent airlines from using excess aircraft in the nation’s airspace.

“Under the new regime, the proposed cap for the deployment of commercial aircraft in Accra is 20 years. This is part of a package of measures designed to ensure aircraft on the Accra route are fit for purpose.

Of course, age is just a number, not just for humans, but also for airplanes. Indeed, a well-maintained 40-year-old Delta DC-9 could be much “safer” than a newly delivered Aeroflot A350 that has operated for several months without keeping its inspection log. Kraikue virtually concedes this point:

“If proper maintenance procedures are followed, chronological age is not a limitation, but the guideline has become necessary due to recent periodic complaints and passenger dissatisfaction.”

This strikes me as a rather weak reason for the ban, especially since around half of the planes in Ghana would be banned under this measure. For example, the national operator Passion Air would end up with only two planes, since its fleet of Dash 8-300s is over 30 years old.

Delta responded to the letter saying it would abide by the ban on that particular 767-300, the N-195DN, but explained that it uses the 767 on routes around the world and that “Delta is committed to provide the highest levels of security and state-of-the-art service for not only our Ghanaian customers, but all of our customers.


Ghana is considering banning all aircraft over 20 years old from flying in its airspace. Seems to me like the “use a shotgun to shoot a fly” kind of solution. Maybe instead the GCAA should impose heavy fines on airlines that experience mechanical delays rather than a blanket ban, but ultimately I think the GCAA’s latest proposal will hurt the very people it intends to help.

photo: Richard Snyder

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