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Time to redefine Africa’s air transport narrative, by stakeholders at AFRAA summit

Stakeholders in Africa’s aviation are of the view that the continent’s air transport system is growing and have overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

They noted that while the headwinds arising from other geopolitical-related developments, it is critical for the air transport ecosystem stakeholders put their weight behind concerted actions for the air transport business to thrive and contribute to the continent’s sustainable rapid development.

To them, it is timely to redefine the narrative of Africa’s air transport industry to that of interconnectedness, affordability, profitability, efficiency, and sustainability.

This was the impetus of the much-awaited Convention, held under the theme “Changing the African Aviation Narrative”.

Secretary-General of African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Abderahmane Berthe

The convention was held at the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 07 – 09 May 2023 under the patronage of the Government of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia and was graced by two Ethiopian Ministers – Nasise Chali, Ethiopia Minister of Tourism and His Excellency Dr. Alemu Sime, Ethiopia Minister of Transport and Logistics- who was the Guest of Honor.

Speaking at the Convention on the importance to change the future of our industry with transformative ideas and actions, the scribe of African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Mr. Abdérahmane Berthé emphasized that African airlines face many challenges that the industry needs to contemplate and find lasting solutions with serious consideration.

His words, “Critical among the challenges facing our industry is sustainability. Only 10% of African citizens can afford air transport, meaning there is a huge room for growth. Reducing the cost of operation, cooperation among airlines, partnerships, and consolidation are part of AFRAA’s initiatives and advocacy to make air transport affordable for Africans.”

The main objective of the Convention was to convene stakeholders to dialogue and deliberate on subject matters to pave the way for the air transport industry’s development and change the narrative of African Aviation.

African airlines

The convention also aimed at establishing lasting interactions and partnerships among aviation players and airlines in the aviation value chain for win-win relationships that will benefit African aviation.

A total of 31 African airlines attended the conference, out of which 14 were represented at the CEO level. Overall, the event was attended by 455 participants from 42 countries.

There were master classes where cutting-edge ideas, industry best practices, new opportunities, and practical solutions were presented and discussed.

The Steering Committee of the Laboratory on Air Transport Sustainability in Africa held a meeting at the Convention to take stock of achievements made since 2022 and deliverables for 2023 and beyond.

The laboratory brings together air transport, trade, and tourism stakeholders under a roadmap structured into five projects for the sustainability of the industry, namely,  taxes (Fuel and customs),  high taxes and charges,   navigation – Free Routing Airspace (FRA).

Others are the implementation of the Single Air Transport Market (SAATM), partnerships – Airlines and tourism bodies to improve intra-African tourism

In the discussions, stakeholders took note of the following achievements made under the roadmap of the laboratory outcomes, among others such as the development of a new model of sharing critical infrastructure to reduce investment costs, a data gathering process has been launched in the field of technology used by Air Navigation Service providers (ANSPs), procurement, and investment practices. This will be used for comparison and best practices to guide all the ANSPs.

Regarding the FRA progress, two member airlines volunteered participation in a total of 5 city pairs in the FRA trials.

The FRA implementation on these routes is estimated to avoid burning 3,200 metric tons of fuel, emitting 10,100 metric tons of CO2, and yield savings of $ 2,784,000 annually. The FRA trials are planned to start in 2023.

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