The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has identified safety and connectivity among top priorities that need to be addressed for Africa to reap maximum economic and social benefits from the aviation sector.
Currently, the sector supports 6.8 million jobs and contributes $72.5 billion in GDP to the continent. It is expected that the passenger demand will increase by an average of 5.7% annually.
In a keynote address delivered on behalf of IATAs Director General Alexandre de Juniac at the 49th African Airlines Association Annual (AFRAA) General Assembly IATA Vice President for Africa Raphael Kuuchi said that Africa was the region with greatest aviation potential. “With over a billion people spread across this vast continent, aviation is uniquely placed to link Africa”s economic opportunities internally and beyond”.
According to de Juniac, the continent faces challenges and many airlines struggle to break-even. In general, the African aviation industry will lose KES. 155.55 ($1.50) for every passenger it carries. “Governments should be aware that Africa is a high-cost place for aviation. Taxes, fuel and infrastructure charges are higher than the global average. Additionally, insufficient safety oversight, failure to follow global standards, and restrictive air service agreements all add to the burden that stands in the way of aviations economic and social benefits," he added.
Safety in Africa has improved. In 2016 there were no passenger fatalities or jet hull losses in Sub-Saharan Africa. When turbo-prop operations are included, Sub-Saharan Africa recorded 2.3 accidents per million flights against a global average of 1.6 accidents per million flights. Despite the improvement of the African safety, there is a gap to close. Global standards such as the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) are the key. De Juniac also called for improved government safety oversight, noting that only 22 African states have reached or surpassed the implementation of 60% of the International Civil Aviation Organizations (ICAO) standards and recommended practices (SARPs) for safety oversight.
At the same time, IATA urged the 22 states that have signed-up for the Yamoussoukro Decision (which opens intra-Africa aviation markets) to follow through on their commitment. Further it wants governments to progress the African Union”s Single Africa Air Transport Market initiative. "African economic growth is being constrained by a lack of intra-Africa air connectivity. Opportunities are being lost simply because convenient flight connections are not available. While we cannot undo the past, we should not miss out on a bright future," said de Juniac.
Other agendas that made it to IATAs priority list of top agenda for Africa are blocked funds, Air Traffic Management and Human Capital.
The 49th African Airlines Association Annual meeting that has attracted close to 400 participants from the aviation industry is being held in Kigali Rwanda under the theme “Rethinking strategies for airline profitability in Africa.”Back to news articles