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African airlines chiefs call for free continental market

Leaders of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) have resolved to work closely together to better serve the continent’s air transport market and connect Africa to the rest of the world.

A statement issued late Tuesday at the end of the 45th Annual General Assembly (AGA) of AFRAA and summit in Mombasa, Kenya, called for unrestrained intra-Africa market access (where demand exists), regulatory alignment among African states and an even playing field that encourages fair competition among players.

Convened under the theme ‘Challenging Times – Africa’s Strategic Alignment’, the three-day conference brought together over 360 high profile delegates from 55 countries across the world.

The meeting took stock of the air transport growth trends, challenges and opportunities in Africa, assessed the impact of global developments and strategised on how, as an industry, airlines can work together to capitalise on the opportunities arising from the business and investment boom.

Kenya Airways Managing Director and chief executive Titus Naikuni noted that the slow pace of air transport liberalisation was hurting the growth and development of Africa.

“Though some airlines may not be prepared for competition in a liberalised environment, protecting such airlines sets the whole industry back,” he said.

AFRAA Secretary General Elijah Chingosho singled out excessive airport taxes, charges and fees, above industry average fuel prices and poor infrastructure as major challenges confronting airlines.

“The generally high cost of operations is making African airlines less competitive,” he said, calling on African governments to take their safety responsibility seriously and together with the African Union engage the European Union on the unfair banning of African airlines.

On the role of government in the development of air transport in Africa, the AFRAA Assembly called upon the authorities to demonstrate commitment towards liberalising the air transport industry and creating a conducive environment for airline operations.

“This will increase regional and domestic traffic and create a bigger Africa-base market for the airlines. Governments should remove barriers to cooperation between carriers and put in place policy and regulatory framework that facilitate beneficial cooperation,” the assembly agreed.

Meanwhile, the AGA has appointed Mr. Monwabisi Kalawe, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of South African Airways, as Chairman of the AFRAA Executive Committee, while Mr. Abdehahmane Berthe, CEO of Air Burkina, and Mr. Abd Elmahmoud Suleiman Mohammed, CEO of Sudan Airways, were elected First and Second Vice Chairmen respectively of the Executive Committee.

The AFRAA Executive Committee has oversight responsibility for the Association and crafts policy as well as oversees implementation of projects and programmes by the Secretariat, which is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Also, the assembly elected two new members to replace those whose term of office on the Executive Committee expired at the close of the 45th AGA.

Berthe was re-elected to represent the West/Central region while Kalawe of South African Airways was elected to represent the Southern Africa region. Both members will serve for a term of three years each to the close of the 48th AGA.

Air Algerie will host the next AFRAA assembly at a venue yet to be named in Algeria from 2-4 Nov. 2014.

At this year’s event, Kenya Airways CEO Naikuni was conferred with the coveted AFRAA Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding service to the African aviation industry.

Ethiopian Airlines was crowned Airline of the Year for its impressive growth, profitability and partnership with regional airlines in Africa, while Luis Felipe de Oliveira of IATA was recognised for distinctive contribution in spearheading lobbying efforts in Africa to reduce taxes, charges and fees on aviation fuel and for supporting the development of air transport in Africa through lowering taxes on Jet A1 fuel.

The government of Angola and the Civil Aviation Authority of Ghana received AFRAA Distinguished Service Provider awards.

Founded in Accra, Ghana, in April 1968, AFRAA works to foster commercial and technical co-operation among African airlines and to represent their common interests.

Its membership cuts across the continent and includes all the major intercontinental African operators. The Association members represent about 83 percent of total international traffic carried by African airlines. 


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