The timely intervention of President John Dramani Mahama has prevented Togo and Benin from breaking away from the Accra-based common flight information region ( FIR).
The two countries had threatened to quit the FIR, which also included Ghana, and hand the management of their specific airspaces to the Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), an air traffic control agency based in Dakar, Senegal.
However, a meeting between the presidents of the three countries at the Peduase Lodge Wednesday, held at the instance of President Mahama, averted the breakaway.
The FIR is a specified region of airspace in which a flight information service and an alerting service are provided for the three countries.
It was established in 1945, but over the years, the management had not been effective.
An MOU signed in 2008 between the three countries to streamline things could not be implemented, leading Togo and Benin to raise serious concerns about the management.
Briefing journalists after the about three-hour meeting, President Mahama said he and his colleagues, Presidents Yayi Boni and Faure Gnassingbé, agreed that their ministers of transport and directors of aviation and their technical personnel together with ASECNA would meet next Tuesday to discuss the key issues that needed to be addressed about a new MOU agreement in order to continue to manage the airspace as one.
“Some of the key issues relate to sharing of resources, capacity and technical building, and joint management of the flight information region,” he said.
He said the agreement reached at next Tuesday’s meeting would be forwarded to the three President for endorsement so that they work together to manage the flight information region for the safety of aviation in their common area.
President Mahama noted the fast rate at which aviation was growing in West Africa and the major investments the three countries were making in the sector, and said maintaining a strong FIR would further enhance the strides the countries were making.