Forum charts roadmap in Africa aviation revival


Travellers queue at passport control desks at the JKIA in Nairobi on August 1, 2020. PHOTO | AFP

The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) and Ethiopian Airlines have called on African governments to offer financial support to airlines and implement international health and travel protocols to jumpstart the industry.

Speaking during the Ninth Aviation Stakeholders’ Convention which focused on priorities for the efficient recovery of the air transport industry in Africa, Ethiopia’s Minister of Transport Dagmawit Moges also encouraged African operators to diversify their businesses.

“We need to implement a series of interventions such as enhanced cooperation in the travel ecosystem and diversification of the business and digitalisation of the passenger journey,”Ms Moges said.

The event, attended by 538 participants from the air transport industry and fraternity in Africa and across the globe was an opportunity for the industry stakeholders to exchange knowledge and experiences on the sector’s recovery efforts.

The forum was dubbed Building Blocks for the Air Transport Industry Recovery.

Highlighting the focus of AFRAA in supporting the survival and sustainability of airlines and the industry as a whole, Secretary General Abdérahmane Berthé emphasized the need for a coordinated approach.

“AFRAA continues to take necessary actions in close collaboration with air transport institutions and stakeholders to support the industry from the impacts of the pandemic and for an efficient restart,” he said.

Tewolde Gebremariam, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO, stressed the importance of government support to advance the industry and create globally competent African carriers.

“I believe that a sustainable, interconnected and affordable air transport in Africa is not beyond the realm of possibility if we consolidate our efforts. By doing so, we can contribute to the continent’s economic advancements,” he noted.

Travel takeholders called for speedy rollout of vaccine campaigns, lifting of prohibitive travel restrictions, adopting globally interoperable digital health passes and making universal, accessible and affordable Covid-19 testing facilities to all air travellers.

The forum called for greater collaboration and acceleration of the collective efforts among stakeholders as it urged States and financial institutions to provide funding to revive the travel industry.

Airlines on their end were encouraged to improve the sustainability of their operations in order to enhance their bankability and thus be in a position to receive better support from financial institutions.

They were also asked to be flexible, lean, smart and have a clear strategic focus putting in place a future-ready business model.

Stakeholders were urged to address the issue of high taxes, fees and charges that impact the sustainability of the air travel industry and support the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and the single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) to drive business growth in Africa.