Monday, November 11, 2019

Air Freight and Passenger Focus on Rapidly Growing African Trade

Parameters Outlined for the Future of the Industry
Shipping News Feature

AFRICA – As we have reported over the past few months the geographical area showing the most growth as far as air freight is concerned has been the African continent. Now the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments and industry in Africa to focus on four priorities for the future of the passenger and cargo sectors.

The intention is to have the nation’s concerned allow aviation to drive economic and social development on the continent, enrich people’s lives and enable the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG’s). Addressing the 51st Annual General Assembly of the African Airline Association (AFRAA) in keynote speech Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, set out the way forward with four priorities:

  • Safety: More states need to incorporate the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) into their safety oversight systems. Mozambique, Rwanda, Togo and Zimbabwe have done so. Smaller operators should consider becoming IATA Standard Safety Assessment (ISSA) certified. ISSA provides a valuable operational benchmark for carriers not eligible for IOSA. African states need to implement ICAO standards and recommended practices in their regulations. Currently, only 26 states meet or exceed the threshold of 60% implementation.
  • Cost-competitiveness: There is a need for a cost-competitive operating environment for airlines in Africa. Airlines should Follow ICAO standards and recommended practices for taxes and charges and disclose hidden costs such as taxes and fees and benchmark them against global best practice whilst eliminating taxes or cross-subsidies on international jet fuel.
  • Opening the continent to travel and trade by: Liberalising intra-Africa access to markets and urgently implement three key agreements which have the potential to transform the continent. The three are; the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which eliminates import duties and non-tariff barriers; the African Union (AU) Free Movement Protocol, which eases the severe visa restrictions that African countries impose on African visitors and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) to open up intra-Africa air connectivity
  • Gender diversity: The industry should support the recently launched 25by2025 campaign which is a voluntary programme in which airlines commit to increasing female participation at senior levels to at least 25% or to improve it by 25% by the year 2025. The choice of target helps airlines at any point on the diversity journey to participate meaningfully.
During his speech (viewable in full here) de Juniac covered each of these points in detail, saying:

“Across the African continent, the promise and potential of aviation is rich. Already it supports $55.8 billion in economic activity and 6.2 million jobs. And, as demand more than doubles over the next two decades, the critical role that aviation plays in Africa’s economic and social development will grow in equal proportion. With the right tax and regulatory framework, the opportunities aviation creates to improve people’s lives are tremendous.

“Our top priority is always safety. And we must never forget that global standards have helped to make aviation the safest form of long-distance transport. There is a good example of that in the safety performance of African airlines. The continent had no fatal jet accidents in 2016, 2017 and 2018. That is largely due to the coordinated efforts of all stakeholders with a focus on global standards, guided by the Abuja Declaration. But there is still more work to do. Taking these three steps will raise the safety bar even higher.

“My message to governments on [that] triumvirate of agreements is simple hurry-up! We know the contributions that connectivity will make to the UN SDGs. Why wait any longer to give airlines the freedom to do business and Africans the freedom to explore their own continent.

“It is no secret that women are under-represented in some technical professions as well as in senior management at airlines. It is also well-known that we are a growing industry that needs a big pool of skilled talent. Africa can be proud of its leadership in this area. But we need to do more. The 25by2025 initiative will help move our industry in the right direction.”