The organization’s ‘Focus Africa’ Conference took place on 20-21JUN23 in Addis Ababa, with Africa’s number one carrier, Ethiopian Airlines hosting the event. The get together of prominent Airline CEOs, representatives of association and decisionmakers of the aerospace industry focused on strengthening the aviation contribution to the continent’s economic and social development and improving air connectivity, safety, and reliability for passengers and air freight traffic alike. Now, ground handling agent Swissport International, serving 31 airports across the continent, has decided to join IATA’s African bandwagon.
“Swissport recognizes the immense potential of the aviation industry in Africa and is committed to creating a positive impact”, says Dirk Goovaerts, CEO Continental Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Global Cargo Chair of Swissport International. “Together with IATA, we aim to support passengers and cargo customers and ultimately promote the continent's economic development.” Africa has the greatest potential for growth in the aviation industry of all regions. However, the need for safe, secure, transparent, and sustainable air transport across Africa remains unchanged, and it is imperative to accelerate the advancement of aviation across the continent, reads the ground handling agent’s press release.
African aviation falls short of its potential
There are three main hurdles that have blocked the growth of the African aviation sector, which have led to the fact that Africa accounts for just 2% of the global air passenger and cargo transport, despite its fast-growing population and spreading wealth in a number of countries. And these are the obstacles: 1. Sky rocketing fees and charges imposed by individual states on air transport, making flying extremely expensive. 2. The ongoing absence of a transnational Single Sky, although in 2018, the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) was launched, with the intent of fully implementing the Yamoussoukro Decision signed by 44 African states in 1999. 3. Corruption, which remains rampant in African aviation. The author of this report experienced one example personally during a stay at a warehouse of an East African capital city: Asking the management how long it would take to release a standard air cargo shipment after it had arrived, he received this telling response. “Between 10 and 14 days on average. But the clearing process can be done much faster if you wish. It depends entirely on you.”
IATA targets six key areas
Corruption is a topic that everyone in the African aviation scene is familiar with, but only talks about behind closed doors. This was also the case at the ‘Focus Africa’ conference in Addis Ababa; there was not a word about it in Swissport's press release either. At most, an indirect reference was made in the Swissport release by Kamil Al-Awadi, Regional Vice President, Africa, and Middle East of IATA: “Africa's aviation industry has the potential to transform lives and economies. By working with partners like Swissport, we aim to address these challenges and together build a sustainable and thriving aviation ecosystem. Swissport's commitment to supporting Focus Africa demonstrates a shared vision for the future of African aviation.”
Back to the IATA Initiative. It targets improvements in six key areas of African aviation: Safety, Infrastructure, Pan-African Air Connectivity, Sustainability, Cost-Effective Financial Services, and Future Capabilities to Promote Careers in Aviation.
The Swissport press release concludes:
Partners and stakeholders are encouraged to support Focus Africa's objectives and projects by providing financial investment, time, research, and participation in task forces. Together, these efforts should create a promising future for African aviation, unlocking economic opportunities that benefit the entire region.
Who would gainsay that?
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