The African aviation industry needs to focus on safety, cost-competitiveness, gender diversity and opening up travel and trade on the continent.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), addressing these four issues would allow African aviation to drive economic and social development on the continent.
African aviation has a huge potential, IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac said at the opening of the 51st annual general assembly of the African Airline Association (AFRAA), which took place in Mauritius this week.
IATA estimates that aviation in Africa currently supports $55.8bn in economic activity and 6.2 million jobs.
Regarding the safety issue, De Juniac said currently only 26 African states meet or exceed the threshold of 60% implementation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and recommended practices for aviation regulations.
Furthermore, only Mozambique, Rwanda, Togo and Zimbabwe have so far incorporated IATA’s Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) into their safety oversight systems.
IATA hopes the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will boost intra-Africa trade through the elimination of import duties and non-tariff barriers.
Elijah Chingosho Berthé, secretary general of AFRAA, also emphasized that the African aviation industry must contribute to the economic integration on the continent through a sustainable air transport system.
“Momentum is needed to shift the tides of African aviation. It is for this reason that this year’s gathering focuses on the sustainability and profitability of African airlines in an increasingly interconnected continent,” said Berthé.
African airlines saw a steep decline in international traffic in September, according to the latest report by IATA, released last week.
In September African airlines’ international traffic growth slowed down to 0.9% in September compared to 4.1% growth recorded in August.
IATA estimates that African carriers lose $1.54 for every passenger they carry. High costs contribute to these losses.