A call for greater co-operation was made during the 8th AFRAA Aviation Stakeholders Convention in Mauritius. Heidi Gibson reports
Enhanced collaboration will accelerate the development of the aviation sector on the continent for the benefit of all, the 8th African Airlines Association or AFRAA aviation stakeholders convention, held in Mauritius, heard from all points of reference.
Addressing the media, AFRAA secretary general Abdérahmane Berthe and CEO for Air Mauritius Somas Appavou both called on industry players to share views on how to realise the immense potential of Africa’s aviation growth through partnerships.
This was a point raised earlier by guest of honour representing the government of Mauritius deputy prime minister Ivan Leslie Collendavello who said Africa must do more to increase air connectivity within Africa.
”We must work together or we will fail together but of course we want to win together. Therefore, the only solution is to work together. We want to encourage the reduction of barriers between African states using approaches that take into account the needs of each country.”
Berthé said air traffic in Africa is forecasted to double in every 15 years and all stakeholders should do more to cope with the growing demand and opportunities across all sectors.
“African governments need to put aviation development as a priority in their policies to reduce industry costs and benefit users of aviation services, “he said.
“Too many African governments tax aviation as a luxury rather than a necessity. We must change that percepon given that the value of aviation for governments is not in the tax receipts that can be squeezed from it. It is in the economic growth and job creation that aviation supports.
CEO Air Mauritius Somas Appavou said, “Africa is a continent of boundless opportunities. With a population of 1.2 billion, double digit growth rates in many countries and a fast expanding middle class, our continent has become the new Promised Land for the development of air travel. Industry partners in Africa will have to take these emerging opportunities and overcome challenges together. This is how we can leverage each other’s strengths and leapfrog the many barriers that no single player can overcome alone.”
He said that aviation is a lifeline for small island developing states such as Mauritius and highlighted the need for strong partnerships to overcome the competitive and operational hurdles faced by countries like these.
The programme featured a number of different presentations that tackled subjects such matching capacity and demand, aircraft financing: leasing or purchasing, modernisation of emergency response and an overview of the air cargo market in Africa.
A keynote interviews with CEO RwandAir Yvonne Manzi Makolo revealed some insight on the introduction of a new technological Amadeus system across all platforms.
“We experienced 98% drop in terms of customer complaints regarding online bookings. By investing in customer experience technology this was completely turned around.”
Referring to the role of women in aviation, Makolo said the aviation industry is very much male-dominated. We are doing a lot to help women to get into the airline industry. My advice to women is that it is very important to have a strong support system. I come from a country where women empowerment is at the top of government’s agenda. I am in an environment where women really are in positions of power.
She said that the decision to start connecting flights to Guangzhou was taken as there are lots of business opportunities between China and the African continent. And the move was ‘strategic’.
AFRAA director government legal and industry affairs Aaron Munetsi said, “For airlines, economic activity remains the key driver of underlying demand – at all fare levels – with supply determined by net new deliveries and deployment decisions. This is also true for any business where key relationship is ensuring there is relevant excess demand for what the business offers at the prices it needs against its prevailing cost base, which reflects the outcome between underlying demand and the amount of product or capacity in the market.
“There is need for African airlines to launch an African alliance” said Munetsi.
SINGLE AFRICAN AIR TRANSPORT MARKET
The realisation of a single unified air transport market has been a top agenda for key stakeholders within the African airlines industry as a vehicle to connect more people on the continent and finally bring the sector to profitability. Despite the projected benefits, SAATM has faced several adoption and implementation challenges across the continent.
During an engaging discussion on the steps to be taken to effectively implement SAATM, panellists examined why liberalisation on the continent seems to be stagnating.
Director of government affairs and market development SSA-Boeing Chamsou Andjorin said “SAATM is working for some states and not so well for others. There are still fears attached to liberalisation and it is important to address them. If African nations and airlines don’t fully embrace SAATM for the benefit of Africa, then the continent, its people and its airlines are unlikely to reach their full potential.”