Experts and key stakeholders from African air transport, trade, and tourism industries converged in Nairobi from 27 June – 01 July at the first-ever African aviation laboratory to develop roadmaps for the sustainability of the air transport sector in Africa.
Led and hosted by African Airlines Association (AFRAA) in collaboration with the African Aviation Group (AAIG), the laboratory’s deliberations were grouped into five projects dedicated to seeking out-of-the-box solutions on specific subject areas, including fuel and customs taxes, high taxes, and charges, navigation – Free Routing Area (FRA), implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and partnerships between airlines, hospitality and tourism bodies to improve intra-African tourism.
The overall objective of the laboratory was to address the root cause of challenges facing the air transport industry in Africa and develop relevant solutions to revamp the sector.
Africa’s global air traffic market share declined from 3.5% in the early 1980s to 2.5% in 2019, and African airlines’ contribution to this market share plummeted from 45% to 20% in the same period.
The COVID-19 pandemic which aggravated the situation of the African air transport sector has seen Africa’s traffic market share drop to less than 2%. This marginalization trend is a strong wake-up call to all stakeholders to take necessary actions.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the Laboratory, AFRAA Secretary-General, Mr. Abdérahmane Berthé stated: “The Laboratory provides a constructive opportunity to share views and build transformative solutions necessary to address sustainability and competitiveness of Africa’s air transport. AFRAA will continue to spearhead the Laboratory outcomes with the relevant stakeholders to ensure that Africa achieves survival in the short-term and its sustainability in the long-term.”
At the conclusion of the laboratory, stakeholders committed to coordinate efforts on the roadmap actions to increase the number of fifth freedom city pairs in Africa to enhance intra-African connectivity, develop guidelines and economic regulatory framework for rationalization of taxes, charges, and fees.
Others are to achieve competitive and affordable air travel to boost trade and tourism in Africa, reduce the taxes on fuel and abolish custom duties on spare parts and aircraft in line with the relevant provisions of the ICAO Convention, and streamline and automate the flight permits acquisition processes across Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs), boost flight operation efficiency in African airspace to attain productivity gains for airlines and air navigation service providers.
The roadmap, which will be tabled for adoption by AU Policy Organs shall be monitored, assessed, and reviewed by a multi-sectoral steering committee coordinated by AFRAA.
The committee shall be composed of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), the African Aviation Industry Group (AAIG), the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), DFIs, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, ACI Africa, ASECNA, CANSO, the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the African Tourism Board (ATB), Satnav Africa JPO, and African Union of Consumers.
The Laboratory made a call upon states, development partners, financial institutions, and other stakeholders to support the implementation of the roadmap.
The Laboratory was hosted at the AFRAA Headquarters in Nairobi – Kenya and was attended physically and virtually by 150 participants from AFRAA, African airlines, airports, ACI Africa, Civil Aviation Authorities, Air Navigation Service Providers, AUC, IATA, AFCAC, AAIG, AfCFTA Secretariat, Afreximbank, ASECNA, CANSO, ICAO, UNECA, UNWTO, Tourism Boards, Satnav Africa JPO, the African Union of Consumers, RECs and independent industry experts.
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