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Flarepath July 2016

ADDRESSING DELEGATES to the recent African Aviation Day celebrations in Abuja, Nigeria, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) speakers have once again called on African governments to prioritise the development of aviation nationally and at a pan-African level to bolster economic growth and development.

Africa is set to be one of the fastest-growing aviation regions over the next 20 years, with annual expansion averaging nearly 5%. This opens up incredible economic opportunities for the continent’s 54 nations. By transporting some 70-million passengers annually, aviation already supports some 6,9-million jobs and $80-billion of economic activity on the African continent.

"Aviation has the potential to be a much greater strategic catalyst for growth if governments would stop milking the industry for taxes and enable it with smarter regulations focused on safety and the development of connectivity. The commitments are already there with the Abuja Declaration and the Yamoussoukro Decision. It’s time to achieve them in partnership with industry," said Hussein Dabbas, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, in his straight-tothe- point, hard-hitting address to the conference.

"Enhanced Air Transport Connectivity is unarguably the key condition for any State’s progress and transformation. Studies have shown that there is clear correlation between connectivity and economic performance. In addition, improved connectivity attracts inward investment, which enables access to export markets and opens countries up to competitive forces.

Nigeria's Minister for Aviation, Senator Hadi Abubakar Sirika., was equally direct in his presentation, saying: “Air transport is a facilitator of international business and trade. Improved connectivity means more access to cities, markets, business and people, as well as the integration into global supply chains, an important factor to attracting inward investment into any country."

The event theme was Driving African Economies through the Power of Aviation. Key elements essential to air transport development in Africa were on the agenda.

One of these elements, Safety in Africa was the top priority. Governments had committed to achieving world-class safety levels in the Abuja Declaration. While safety has improved, Africa still had the highest accident rate among regions in 2015, at 7,88 accidents per million sectors.

IATA's Operating Safety Audit (IOSA) has shown the power of global standards underpinning safety operations. The 32 sub-Saharan airlines on the IOSA registry are performing 3,5 times better than non-IOSA operators in terms of accidents.

IATA has urged African governments to improve safety oversight and adopt IOSA together with ICAO’s safety-related standards and recommended practices (SARPs). As of the end of January 2016, only 21 African countries had at least 60% SARPs implementation.

Another element discussed at some length was the question of Connectivity. The IATA speakers welcomed the recent signing of a “Solemn Declaration” by 21 African heads of state re-affirming their commitment to breaking down the artificial barriers obstructing air transport service expansion between African nations by implementing the Yamoussoukro Decision.

“IATA urges all African nations to expedite its implementation, which will stimulate economic growth and development with at least fivemillion more passenger journeys a year on the continent,” they said. Dealing with the question of Infrastructure development , delegates were told that cost-effective and appropriate infrastructure development was critical to the sustainability and expansion of African aviation.

“Consultation and collaboration among airlines and their infrastructure partners during planning and development is crucial. No one knows better than the airlines the level of airport charges that enable a route to be viable, and the kind of amenities they need to support their passengers and aircraft efficiently. All too often in Africa there is no real engagement with the airlines prior to development. This leaves airlines burdened with paying for excessive and unsustainable development costs.

“The International Civil Aviation Organisation has very clear guidelines on infrastructure funding. Development should be guided by principles of non-discrimination, consultation, transparency, cost-benefit and no prefinancing,” was IATA’s message to delegates, which added: “IATA is concerned about the viability of some planned airport developments, including Ndjamena in Chad, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and Dakar in Senegal. IATA calls on the Governments in these countries to take the lead in consulting the users of the infrastructure to ensure that the end product provides maximised benefits and rationalises costs for all.”

Another hotly-debated topic was that of fuel surcharges. IATA is urging African governments to tackle the excessive surcharges on fuel, which can make fuel purchases on the continent up to 20% more expensive than the global average. Airlines operating to Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana and Kenya are particularly affected by above-market fuel costs. These surcharges increase airlines' cost burden when they are already operating in a challenging environment. “They also hinder growth in an industry that delivers extensive socioeconomic benefits,” delegates were told....................................... To read the full article please subscribe to our E Magazine Here.

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