AFRAA chief's plea to rid African aviation of negative slurs
Secretary General of AFRAA, Dr. Elijah Chingosho has called on African governments and airlines to work together to rid the industry of the negative labels it has outside of the continent.
Speaking on the eve of the 44th African Airlines Association (AFRAA) annual assembly in Johannesburg, Chingosho said there was a three pronged challenge of priorities ahead. Safety, he said, is the first priority. Then a reduction in unfair taxation and costs to the industry that is limiting growth and thirdly developing people to meet the shortage of skilled people the industry needs to feed allow the growth to happen.
Chingosho also said AFRAA would continue to lobby the European Union over the blanket blacklist that has seen airlines with no intention of going to Europe being banned; and destinations declared unsafe on security grounds.
“How can we expect people to differentiate between good airlines and others when this happens,” he said.
Chingosho said that the continent’s safety record had improved. He said that it needed two nations – the Democratic Reupublic of Congo and Sudan – to improve their safety systems and safety record. Without these two nations, Chingosho said, Africa would be close to the global average.
He called on the large countries and airlines : South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia and Kenya to take a lead in helping other countries adopt robust safety systems and practices.
But he slammed the region’s governments who were abusing the fund-raising opportunities through aviation. Fuel can be more expensive than anywhere else in the world and is double the global average. Passenger duties can be as high as $80 or $85. “We need to make governments understand that aviation is good for their people and their economies rather than exploiting them.”
Chingosho also said there was a need for African airlines to consolidate. “There are too many small airlines,” he said. “There are opportunities to come together.”
He expressed concern that governments were giving rights to non-African carriers – particularly from the Gulf – which African carriers can not get rights.
“This should never happen. It wouldn’t happen in Europe. We should see greater rights and opportunities for African carriers,” he said.
The main AFRAA event starts Monday morning. Convened under the theme “Business together in the era of growing opportunities”, the conference has attracted over 350 high profile aviation delegates from all over Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North and South America.
Issues of safety, security, the environment, liberalization and cooperation among African airlines will take centre stage at this year’s summit.
The event was supposed to have been held in Mali, but switched earlier this year. The last time AFRAA held its annual assembly in South Africa was in 2005 and according to the President of AFRAA and CEO of South African Airways, Vuyisile Kona, during that Assembly, resolutions adopted were aimed at addressing the aviation safety challenges confronting Africa and forging collaborations among airlines.
In a planned address to the assembly Kone said: “While much has been done to improve our operating environment and commercial relations, we still have a long way to go in ensuring that we effectively serve the air transport needs of the continent. Collaboration rather than competition is the surest way to achieving our goal of contributing to the socio-economic development and integration of the continent.”
The Assembly will evaluate the growing air transport opportunities in Africa and how operators can take advantage by providing safe, reliable, efficient and profitable operations, according to AFRAA. Special focus will be on the emerging middle class, with disposal income and an affinity to travel.
“This market segment is estimated to increase to about 300,000 people, spending approximately 3 trillion US dollars annually by 2030,