THE International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on African government to take advantage of the positive benefits from the aviation industry in driving economic growth.
According to statistic, the aviation industry in Africa accounts for about US$55.8 billion of economic activity while providing millions of jobs directly and indirectly.
Speaking at the 50th Annual General Assembly (AGA) meeting of the African Airline Association (AFRAA) in Morocco IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac said governments in Africa need to maximize the positive social and economic power of aviation by working together to promote safe, sustainable and efficient air connectivity.
“African aviation supports US$55.8 billion of economic activity and 6.2 million jobs. To enable aviation to be an even bigger driver of prosperity across the continent, we must work closely with governments,” he said.
The IATA boss applauded Africa for its safety record but added that more still needs to be done to enhance the record through collaborations.
“Africa has had no jet hull losses for two years running and is two years free of any fatalities on any aircraft type, it’s clear that progress is being made. But more needs to be done.
“We urge governments to recognize the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) in their safety oversight programs. With IOSA carriers performing three times better than airlines not on the IOSA registry, we have a convincing argument. Similarly, states must push forward greater adoption of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS),” he said
de Juniac was not pleased with the fact that only 24 African states comply with at least 60% of ICAO SARPS adding that it is not good enough and that states must make global safety standards a top priority.
According to the IATA director general, Africa is competitive enough for airlines to do business adding taxes are higher compared to elsewhere.
“Africa is an expensive place for airlines to do business. There is no shortage of examples illustrating the heavy burden that governments extract from aviation. Jet fuel costs are 35% higher than the rest of the world.
“User charges, as a percentage of airlines’ operating costs, are double the industry average. And taxes and charges are among the highest in the world. On top of that, US$670 million airline funds are blocked. Too many African governments view aviation as a luxury rather than a necessity. We must change that perception,” said de Juniac.
Meanwhile, the IATA director general has called on for a dialogue between the aviation industry and government over infrastructure issues.
“In Africa, we have infrastructure problems in two extremes. In some cases, it is overbuilt and expensive. In other cases, it is deficient and cannot meet demand.
He said “dialogue between industry and government is critical to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to meet demand, that airline technical and commercial quality standards are met and that the infrastructure is affordable.
“Achieving that will create the platform on which aviation’s economic and social benefits can be maximized,” he said.
IATA also expressed strong support for the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative.
“The low density of the African intra-continental network makes it impossible to realize the potential benefits of a connected African economy.
“SAATM—if implemented—gives Africa the potential for economic transformation. History has shown that opening markets leads to rapid advances in connectivity,” said de Juniac.
To date, 27 African governments have committed to SAATM and IATA encourages the remaining 28 African Union member states to come on board quickly to enjoy the potential benefits of a connected African economy.