Some passengers who were booked to fly back to the UK were left stranded at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) after their flight was cancelled at the last hour.
The about 360 passengers, mainly UK nationals were being evacuated under a special arrangement facilitated by the British High Commission following the closure of Ghana’s air, sea and land borders to stop the importation of COVID-19 into the country.
The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, (GCAA) following the President’s address to the nation to announce the closure of the borders followed-up with an official notice to all the airlines that no flights will be permitted, except in emergency situations which will have to be pre-authorised.
The pre-authorisation for the BA flight 78 was contained in a letter dated, March 23, and signed by the Director-General of GCAA, Simon Allotey, citing approval by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19 of a request by the British High Commission.
JoyNews is learning, the flight turned back three hours into its journey after it was informed that the approval had been rescinded.
A website which tracks flights confirmed in an update on Twitter that the aircraft was indeed airborne and Accra-bound.
#BA81, London-Accra, has turned back toward London and is squawking 7700. Reason unknown at this time. https://t.co/owaAoqXB9h
For more information on ‘Squawking 7700’ please see https://t.co/nW7vZ4JgMF pic.twitter.com/8T9POppyAo— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 23, 2020
The GCAA could not explain why but confirmed the initial approval had been rescinded.
The approximately 360 passengers who had gone to the airport in anticipation of the flight were compelled to return to their various destinations unsure when they would make that journey.
JoyNews is learning the rescission of the initial approval granted by the COVID-19 committee was communicated to the UK High Commission via a phone call.
Several US citizens have however made it out of Ghana under a similar arrangement onboard a Delta Airlines flight facilitated by the US embassy.
Approval for the Delta Airlines Evacuation Flight is contained in a letter dated March 22, also signed by the GCAA Director-General also citing approval by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19.
JoyNews checks at the airport Monday night indicated the US-bound passengers were being processed for boarding at the time the UK nationals had been told their flight had been cancelled.