Erik Vente elected as chairman of Airlines Association of Southern Africa
Comair CEO, Erik Venter, was elected as the new chairman of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) at the industry body's 44th annual general assembly which was held in Mauritius this past weekend.
AASA represents the SADC and Indian Ocean islands-domiciled airlines on matters of common interest in their respective countries, e.g. tariffs, charges, safety, security, infrastructure development, air transport policy.
AASA members also elected SA Express CEO, Inati Ntshanga, as the association’s deputy chairman.
This year’s annual meeting focussed on mastering industry strategic turnarounds. It included a keynote address by author, policy advisor and academic, Professor Nawal Taneja, on the challenges and strategic opportunities for Southern African airlines. He pointed to the industry’s shifting centre of gravity to the Persian-Gulf, North-East Africa and Asia. He explained why airlines wanting to survive in Southern Africa had to innovate and respond to the game-changing airlines in Turkey, the U.A.E., Qatar, Ethiopia and Kenya, which were rapidly expanding – including launching many new African routes - and returning double-digit profits.
To facilitate airline growth and through it, broader economic expansion, AASA proposed the establishment of a forum, or forums, where regional governments and the air transport industry could engage constructively on policies that impact on commercial air transport and eliminate impediments to trade, tourism and economic growth and close gaps that exist between Government policy and commercial air transport industry strategies.
“Economic growth in the SADC region and within its member states could be stimulated if governments and airlines were able to ensure that trade, immigration, tax and other policies fostered air transport connectivity and promoted competition,” said AASA’s CEO, Chris Zweigenthal.
There are currently 24 major airlines in the SADC and Indian Ocean region, operating a combined fleet of 268 aircraft. Together, they carried 25.5 million passengers last year. AASA foresees this number of passengers rising to just over 26 million in 2014 and to 30.3 million by 2018. This is based on the World Bank’s regional air transport growth forecasts of 1.89% for this year, 3.36% in 2015 and climbing to 4.17% by 2018 with profit margins remaining thin.