The Herald’s investigations into the ongoing misunderstanding between the Ghana Airport Company and McDan Aviation, leading to the shutdown of what was said to be the first commercial private jet company to be operated in the West African sub-region, have started unearthing some strange revelations.
It has been established that one of the biggest concerns to government, especially the President, Nana Akufo-Addo is that the operations of McDan Aviation, could fall willingly or unwillingly fall into the hands of narcotic drugs smugglers, money launderers amongst other criminal-minded gangs, ready to pay anything in furtherance of their illegal trade.
The fear, among government officials, including the President and many of his lieutenants are that, allowing McDan Aviation to operate the way he wants to with impunity, risks Ghana’s international airport being banned by many countries and international regulatory bodies, because the dangers involve in allowing airlines from Ghana into other countries without the necessary security checks are too high if not dire.
Aside narcotic drugs smugglers and money launderers, aviation analysts have mentioned the planting of bombs and other explosives on international airlines due to the loose security arrangement of McDan Aviation if allowed, to operate at Terminal One where private jet rentals will officially be operated.
Indeed, The Herald has picked up some names of individuals, who have already patronized the services of McDan, long before last Friday’s inauguration.
The Herald’s findings portray McDan Aviation’s owner, chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of McDan Group of Companies, Daniel McKorley, a recipient of the Entrepreneur of the Year – 2016 an a Ghana Aviation Awards, as an arrogant personality acting with impunity.
He is mentioned to be using his connections to Gabby Otchere Darko and Nana Asante Bediatuo to bulldoze his way through things to satisfy his financial and personal interests.
Although, it is unclear, how many of such state institutions Daniel McKorley had bulldozed his way, The Herald picked up reports that President Akufo-Addo, who knows Daniel McKorley very well, is unhappy with him, particularly his attempt to operate a private jet terminal without meeting key the requirements with dreadful international implications for the country.
Furthermore, The Herald picked that the fact that Daniel McKorley is owing the state over GHC30 million and attempts by the cash-strapped Ghana Airport to have him pay the money is not much of a problem, compared to Ghana’s airport being blacklisted and even banned for not adhering to international requirements, including those of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
ICAO, could stop international flights from entering and leaving Ghana based on the country’s dealings with McDan Aviation.
What is shocking is that, many officials in the Akufo-Addo government appear not enthusiastic about McDan Aviation having access to Terminal One area to run the private jet chattering company there, except one powerful senior official at the heart of the Presidency.
At Ministerial level, Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah and deputies, including Hassan Tampuli are in full support of what the Ghana Airport Company is doing, and indeed boycotted last Friday’s launch due to the failure of McDan to meet the requirements on safety and security.
Although invited by McDan Aviation, President Akufo-Addo, also had stayed away from the inauguration as a result of the total disdain the owners had shown to the management of the Ghana Airports led by its Managing Director, Yaw Kwakwa.
At management level, the workers of Ghana Airport, have declared their full backing for the management and board headed by Paul Adom Otchere.
The Divisional Union representing the general staff of the Ghana Airports Company Limited, had lauded the decision by its management to suspend operations of McDan Aviation at the KIA.
According to the Union, management of GACL, were very bold in its decision to call McDan to order over the blatant disregard for aviation rules.
In a statement released to the media and signed by the Divisional Chairman, Abdul-Issaka Bamba, it said airport operations are heavily regulated by standards and recommended practices.
“It is against this background that we view Messrs McDan Aviation’s actions as very unfortunate and undermines the progress made in the aviation sector so far. Workers are beginning to question whether it is the case that certain operators are above ICAO regulations and the security set up of the state”, the statement said.
The Union also alleged that McDan Aviation has not paid for the Terminal 1, which it has converted to a private jet terminal and they are owing the Ghana Airport Company in the region $4 million.
The Managing Director of the Ghana Airports, had instructed McDan Aviation to suspend the use of Terminal 1, until further notice.
According to the letter signed on January 28, 2022, by the MD of the GACL, McDan Aviation, failed to adhere to earlier directive not to go ahead with the launch of its private jet services.
The letter signed by Mr. Kwakwa, said that McDan aviation refused to attend some key meetings, and even those he attended, he arrogantly refused to comply with directives, including a freeze on the inauguration of the company.
Despite McDan’s refusal to adhere to the directives of the Ghana Airports, the company on 27, January, 2022, wrote to the airport company in a letter entitled “Commissioning of McDan Private Jet Operations in Terminal One” and demanded some logistics from the managers of the airports.
The demand was to allow the use of the tarmac by allowing people on it, among others.
The letter signed by Julian Nii Lartey, the Director of Operation of McDan aviation, said “We humbly write to notify you of the commissioning of the Fixed Based Operations (FBO) and opening of the newly built Private Jet Terminal, on Friday, 28th January 2022 at 5pm”.
The letter addressed to Mr. Kwakwa, stated “We have expecting Hundred (300) invited guest for the event including media personnel. The will be mounting of Chairs, Canopy and Decorations at the landside for the purpose of the event. After the Landside activities, the three Hundred (300) invited guests will be escorted to the airside in, front of Terminal one (1) to view the aircraft.
“We have selected about Fifty (50) VVIP guests out of the number to be escorted to view the aircraft, which will be done in batches with the flight crew attendants to view and inspect the aircraft. There will be a small refreshment of cocktail presentation on the airside and there will be no chairs, canopies for sitting on the airside.
In view of the above, McDan, will require the following assistance
1. Traffic Control/ Drop off and Provision of Car packing for the invited guest.
2. Security Escort for the Invited guest to the airside and the aircraft”.
“Above all, McDan will provide waste bins and FOD pickers on both Landside and Airside to keep the space neat and clean at all times, during and after the event.
“We are by this letter seeking your consideration, support and approval to make the commissioning a success and also not to compromise the security and integrity of the Kotoka International Airport.
Ghana Airport ignored the demands in the letter, but McDan Aviation, with impunity went ahead to open the terminal, although it was obvious that the government was not going to allow the company to have its way, but came a last minute attempt to have a deputy minister to step in for the President.
The Herald picked up reports that the government was going to lock up the terminal in an embarrassing manner, this quickly got McDan to immediately issue another letter, saying he was ready for a meeting to address the concerns.
In a letter dated January 31, 2022, McDan announced the suspension of its operations at the fixed-base operator terminal with immediate effect.
This time around, the decision was communicated in a letter signed by Daniel McKorley, and addressed to the Managing Director of GACL.
McDan Aviation noted in its letter that it is suspending operations to pave the way for the company, GACL and all key stakeholders to dialogue on the way forward.
Interestingly, the same day Ghana Airports had ordered McDan Aviation to suspend its Private Jet lounge operations at Terminal 1 asking McDan to “kindly request to relinquish the keys to enable Management undertake a Joint Inventory by close of business day, Monday, 31st January 2022”.
In a letter dated January 31, 2022, signed by Mr. Kwakwa, an earlier notice to McDan to suspend its inauguration of the Private Jet lounge at Terminal 1 last Friday was referenced.
“We refer to our earlier discussions and subsequent directive to suspend the inauguration of the Private Jet Terminal at Kotoka International Airport (KIA) until all the necessary operational requirements and obligations are met”, the letter stated.
“We note with concern, your failure to comply with the directive despite the outstanding issues on the prior terms and conditions for the use and operations of Terminal 1 as a Private Jet Terminal,” it added.
“Management has consequently directed the suspension of your use of Terminal 1 until further notice. You are kindly requested to relinquish the keys to enable Management undertake a Joint Inventory by close of business day, Monday, 31st January 2022.
The letter was copied to the Secretary to the President, Jubilee House; Secretary to the Vice President, Jubilee House; Minister of Transport, Minister of National Security, National Security Coordinator at KIA; Board Chairman of GACL and the Director-General of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).