- From the perspective of the airlines
Addressing more than 900 delegates in Intercontinental City Stars Hotel in Cairo, CEO and director general of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Abderrahmane Berthe, noted that safety and security and high industry costs resulting from hefty taxes and airport charges all stand as major problems facing African airlines. Berthe listed market access restrictions, access to aircraft financing, and lack of skilled labor as impediments for the development of aviation in Africa.
Meanwhile, African airlines will need 22,000 pilots, 24,000 mechanics, and 27,000 cabin crewmembers over the next 20 years to support an expected demand for 1,000 new aircraft.
Berthe touched on the growing challenge of repatriating airlines funds from some African countries due to a shortage of foreign currency. He called on African policy makers and all stakeholders to cooperate in addressing the associated challenges.
- From the perspective of airports
The rapid growth in Africa’s air traffic can only be managed through the continuation of development and modernization of airports and other local aviation infrastructure, Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, president of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council, says.
Aliu told Airports Council International’s 2018 Africa Regional Conference in Lagos, Nigeria, on Tuesday that ICAO’s goal is “to ensure there are no constraints of infrastructure capacity, technology and financial resources for aviation development.”
Related improvements in education and training and other “human capacity development” should be considered “directly supportive of the sustainability of any new infrastructure project or new capacity being considered,” Aliu said.
ICAO is concerned that some African airports are attempting to attract international flights with impressive new terminal buildings but “without the requisite certifications,” he added.
“More attention must continue to be paid to the airside safety priorities at Africa’s airports, including international airport perimeter fencing, taxiway and runway safety, effective fire services, and better wildlife management,” he said.
- Creation of a Single African Air Transport Market
Twenty-three African states, including South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, have launched a single aviation market in a bid to boost connectivity, reduce fares and stimulate economic growth on a continent widely considered the most expensive and inconvenient to fly around.
Three decades after the concept was first proposed, the 55-member African Union on Sunday unveiled the first phase of the Single African Air Transport Market. Officials hope it will eventually replicate the European Common Aviation Area, which allows airlines from member states to fly between any member state.
Airline executives and industry analysts welcomed the move as a “seismic event” but cautioned that much more work was needed to create genuinely open skies in Africa.
Africa accounts for about 15 per cent of the world’s population but only 3 per cent of the world’s aviation traffic, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN agency.
“The continent is beset by airlines that are government owned, incredibly inefficient arms of the state and not really fit for commercial purpose and the travelling public suffer as a result,” said Tim Coombs, managing director of Aviation Economics, a London-based consultancy. Connectivity between some nations is so poor the easiest way to travel from one country to another is often to fly via Europe or the Middle East.
Making Africa a priority for the US was a theme initiated by Secretary Foxx in 2016:
He targeted Mozambique, South Africa, and Kenya. He introduced U.S. firms in the transportation, energy equipment and services, and the agricultural equipment sectors to the sub-Saharan Africa region while also promoting the importance of exports of these companies’ world-class products and services. The Secretary explained his goals:
“U.S. companies are continually evaluating new markets in order to grow their business. The mission participants offer the products, services, and technological expertise needed to help these three markets achieve their goals in a variety of critical industry sectors…This trade mission represents our commitment to connecting U.S. companies to opportunities on the continent and will lead to business growth for both U.S. companies and their local partners.”
The Secretary has established that there are assets in America interested in the partnerships which ICAO Secretary Liu and by his mission they know the continent.
The EU and EASA already have declared a global campaign to plant their aviation flag everywhere. At the same time, Congressional Budget cuts and a misplaced deletion of the word “promote” from its statutory mission make it hard for the FAA to respond in kind. This deflation of activity is in contradiction to credible requests (see above and here) to be involved in Africa’s aviation growth. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania has written a recipe for such assistance.
Administrator Huerta set as the FAA’s Strategic Initiative the Caribbean; perhaps these added facts and initiatives will add Africa to the FAA list?
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