IATA Urges Improvement on African Connectivity

The airline lobby International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for African governments, regulators and industry to take action to quickly enhance aviation connectivity and ground infrastructure development for the economic and social benefit of the continent and its people.

Infrastructure at many African airports is pitiful as seen here in Mwanza, Tanzania  /  source: Almut Susanne Caanitz
Infrastructure at many African airports is pitiful as seen here in Mwanza, Tanzania / source: Almut Susanne Caanitz

As Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO stated at his organization’s conference in Nairobi, Africa is expected to be one of the fastest-growing aviation regions over the next 20 years, with annual expansion averaging nearly 5 percent. According to Tyler: “This opens up incredible economic opportunities.” Having said that, he warned that aviation is facing considerable challenges, and for the potential to be realized, correct policies must be developed, he emphasized. “Smarter regulation, and a focus on delivering on the safety and connectivity commitments of the African Union, will be crucial to establishing Africa as a global aviation powerhouse,” stated Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

African aviation is facing four major challenges
The remarks Tyler made were at the IATA Africa and Middle East Aviation Day in Nairobi, Kenya. The event brought together the key players of the ‘Connecting Africa’ vision, focusing on the development of frameworks to promote connectivity in regulations, commerce, and operations.
In his speech, Tyler identified four key challenges that need to be addressed:
Safety, Regulation, Infrastructure and Environment

The manager repeated that safety must always be first priority in aviation. The good news is that Africa experienced zero jet hull losses in 2014, an excellent statistic, applauded Tyler. He regretted, however, that the all-aircraft accident rate remains considerably higher than the global average. Therefore, more must be done by African governments, airlines and airports to match global safety standards, the sooner the better.

Next in his presentation he touched on the ‘Smarter Regulation’ issue, saying that African nations have an opportunity to enact smarter regulation enabling better aviation connectivity. Implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision, which favors liberal traffic schemes and open-skies solutions, will create new and additional pan-African air routes providing opportunities for more than 5 million additional passengers a year as well as increased cargo transports.

As to ‘infrastructure’ Tyler strongly recommended the provision of appropriate infrastructure, offering the right capacity for the right price. This is an essential issue for stimulating the development of sustainable air services across the continent. “The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has very clear guidelines on infrastructure funding - and Africa has an opportunity to be a leader in this field by developing its infrastructure in close consultation with the industry,” Tyler told the Nairobi delegates.

Finally, he touched on environmental issues reminding the participants that the aviation industry is committed to meeting its carbon emissions targets. “In particular, our goal of carbon-neutral growth starting 2020 is of the utmost priority,” he noted. The negotiations for a global market-based resolution to tackle carbon emissions from aircraft are entering a crucial phase ahead of the 2016 ICAO Assembly. “It is vital that African governments support a workable solution, in order for a statute to be in place in time for the industry’s 2020 goal of carbon-neutral growth,” the IATA boss concluded in his speech.

Heiner Siegmund  /  Michael Taweel

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