The Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) has postponed implementation of the mandatory online COVID-19 test payment for all in-bound passengers to Ghana to Monday, September 21, 2020 and has also allowed for other payment options including mobile money and cash.
The decision was arrived after a meeting between the aviation industry’s stakeholders and the Ministry of Aviation, where airline operators made a strong case that the move will lead to huge revenue losses and also burden passengers due to the short notice that accompanied the directive. The implementation was initially scheduled to take place September 15, 2020.
When the country opened its air space on September 1, 2020 for international flights and instituted a compulsory testing regime upon arrival for all international passengers at a cost of US$150 or flat rate of GH¢900, several passengers have arrived and been detained due to their inability to pay the fee. As a result, the mandatory test’s cost was borne by government before they were allowed entry into the country.
Government through the Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) announced that passengers were required to show proof that they have paid for the mandatory COVID-19 test online before they would been allowed to board any flight to the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).
The airlines argue that, even though the directive comes with good intentions, they need to be given some time before it is fully rolled out to achieve the maximum impact. Despite welcoming the postponement of the implementation, they wished it was extended further than the said date as the notice is too short for them to communicate it to their passengers.
The continuous implementation of the directive, the airlines say, would have also resulted in delays at the airport and some passengers would have missed their flights as they were not aware of the new directive. Passengers who were not able to meet this new directive would have had to reschedule their flights – and that would certainly come at a cost.
“The message has not gone out very well for it to take effect on September 15; so, the first challenge is that you will find a lot of passengers showing up for boarding who may not have paid online but are ready to pay on arrival per the old directive. With this directive kicking in, the obvious thing is that you are going to deny passengers boarding – which is not good. It would be loss of revenue to the airline,” one airline operator who pleaded anonymity told local newspaper B&FT in an interview.
The GACL has agreed to run the directive concurrently with the status quo, whereby international passengers are given options to pay for the compulsory testing – US$150 or flat rate of GH¢900 – upon arrival via mobile money, electronic payment or cash at the KIA till Monday, September 21, 2020.
Previously, payments were accepted only electronically as part of efforts to drive the cash lite agenda. However, given the cash-driven nature of the economy, it became problematic at a point in time for some passengers who preferred cash payment, hence, the decision to add cash to the payment options.
Without these changes, passengers would have been stranded at the airport if they were not able to show proof of online payment for the mandatory COVID-19 test; as they would be denied entry into their flights even if they were prepared to pay on arrival.
The news is welcoming to our tenants at Green Views as it will give those who traveled outside the country time to organise themselves well before they embark on their journey back home. Management of Green Views want to use this opportunity to welcome all our tenants who visited their families in their home countries back to Ghana. Please remember to keep safe and observe all the necessary COVID-19 protocols as your family, friends, school mates and work colleagues and Green Views need you alive and healthy.