The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) and Ethiopian Airlines concluded the 9th Aviation Stakeholders Convention with an alignment on priorities for the efficient recovery of the air transport industry in Africa.
The event which was held in virtual format, was graced by the Minister of Transport of the Republic of Ethiopia, Mrs Dagmawit Moges and was attended by 538 participants from the air transport industry and fraternity in Africa and across the globe.
Held under the theme: “Building Blocks for the Air Transport Industry Recovery”, the Convention provided a forum for air transport industry stakeholders to dialogue, exchange knowledge and experiences for the sector’s recovery efforts and deliberate on feasible solutions to alleviate challenges in the African travel industry.
Highlighting the focus of AFRAA in supporting the survival and sustainability of airlines and the industry as a whole, AFRAA Secretary General Abdérahmane Berthé in his keynote address emphasized the need for a coordinated approach.
“AFRAA continues to take necessary actions in close collaboration with air transport institutions and stakeholders to support the industry from the impacts of the p******c and for an efficient restart,” he said.
Mr Tewolde Gebremariam, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO, said. “I believe that a sustainable, interconnected and affordable Air Transport in Africa is not beyond the realm of possibility if we consolidate our efforts. By doing so, we can contribute to the continent’s economic advancements.”
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Travel ecosystem stakeholders at the Convention deliberated on the various on-going and expected actions towards the restart of the industry in the context of the African continent and recommended the following actions for a sustainable restart and recovery of air travel in Africa.
- Priority actions for the industry restart: Financial support to airlines as well as the implementation of harmonized and internationally adopted health and travel protocols were singled out as the top priority focus areas for the industry restart.
- Safe reopening of borders: African States were urged to expedite the vaccine roll-out campaign in Africa, lift prohibitive travel restrictions, adopt globally interoperable digital health pass or certificate and make available universal, accessible and affordable COVID-19 testing facilities to all air travellers.
- Financial support to airlines: A call was made for greater collaboration and acceleration of the collective efforts among stakeholders with States and financial institutions urged to provide financial support to the travel industry. Airlines on their end were encouraged to improve the sustainability of their operations in order to enhance their bankability and thus be in a position to receive better support from financial institutions.
- Sustainable airline operations – actions by airlines: African Airlines were encouraged to be flexible, lean, smart, collaborate and have a clear strategic focus putting in place a future-ready business model.
- Sustainable airline operations – actions by industry stakeholders: Stakeholders were urged to address the issue of high taxes, fees and charges that impact the sustainability of the air travel industry and support the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and the single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) to drive business growth in Africa and intra-Africa connectivity.
- Cargo operations: Operators were urged to treat cargo as core-business and to give it priority in strategy, fleet planning, network development and to be represented at the board-level.
- Safety: With AfDB support, AFCAC, AFRAA and IATA to continue with j***t efforts to prepare African airlines for ISSA or IOSA to further improve Africa safety performance. Additionally, AFRAA airlines with FAA or EASA approved MROs were urged to contribute in the enhancement safety through continuous airworthiness and generate new revenues under the framework of the AFRAA-UTD MRO j***t initiative.
- Technology: Investment in technology that will enhance the passenger experience, drive cost savings and improve operational efficiencies was highlighted as key. Airlines were urged to leverage on smarter retailing to survive in today’s dynamic market and unlock incremental revenue streams.
- Fuel: Fuel efficiency and hedging remains critical.