The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that by not removing restrictions that interfere with liberalised airspace in Africa, the continent’s nations are denying themselves the benefits of air transport.
Projections estimate that passenger movement to Africa will rise to 350 million by 2035. IATA notes that in order to benefit from this growth, it is imperative to unlock the benefits of aviation in the areas of safety, competitiveness, infrastructure and harmonisation.
The Director General and CEO of IATA, Alexander de Juniac, who delivered a presentation at the 50th Annual General Meeting of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), said it is important for governments in Africa to maximise the positive social and economic power of aviation by working together to promote safe, sustainable and efficient air connectivity.
He said “African aviation supports $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”.
According to De Juniac, “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 recognise the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) in their safety oversight programs”.
He added that “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 the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS)”.
De Juniac revealed that only 24 African states have complied with at least 60 per cent of the International Civil Aviation Organisation Recommended and Standard Practices. He said this was not good enough, urging African states to make global air safety standard a top priority.
The IATA Director General also noted that Africa will reap the full benefits of air transport when states improve competitiveness in terms of loosening existing stiff regulations that shut other airlines from fellow African states.
To improve the aviation industry in Africa, he said each country in the continent must develop effective infrastructure in terms of airport facilities, landing aids and runways; modernise their regulatory framework, focusing on global standards and connectivity as well as ensuring a well-trained and diverse workforce.
To ensure harmonised regulation, IATA called for support for the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative, which encourages the liberalization of the region’s airspace for African airlines.
De Juniac said that 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.