, KWALE, Kenya, Nov 25 – African airlines need to strategically align themselves to leverage on the growing air transport opportunities in the continent.
Africa Airlines Association (AFRAA) Secretary General Elijah Chingosho says the airlines need to build on the existing cooperation and improve industry competitiveness.
Chingosho said on Monday that a high operating costs environment and limited market access continue to be serious drawbacks to the airlines growth and profitability.
He says the performance of African Aviation Industry is lagging behind those of the rest of the world at less than three percent of global revenue passenger per kilometer (RPK).
“The intercontinental market share of African airlines is only about 20 percent, we need the African Union (AU) and African states to help reverse this by ensuring common negotiating position as European Union (EU) negotiates as a block, while African states negotiate individually,” he said.
He urged African states to desist from giving more favorable treatment to foreign carriers in terms of more traffic rights which are denied to African carriers.
Chingosho also said that appropriate policies are needed to reduce the extremely high industry costs. He said that passenger charges need to be reduced by some airlines to the global average in order to increase traffic.
“Flying should not be positioned for the rich but for all, we need to increase competitiveness,” he said.
He said that fuel taxes which are now 50 to 100 percent higher than world average should also be reduced.
Safety, he said, remains the greatest challenge facing African aviation pointing out that AFRAA welcomes the decision by Heads of States early this year to make International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit mandatory by 2015.
“We urge all states to rectify safety deficits particularly those with serious concerns,” he said.
He said that AFRAA is opposed to the EU banned list citing that it’s negatively painting all African airlines.
He stressed that there is need to develop adequate infrastructure with many African countries not coping with the growing industry.
“Relevant authorities should plan for the expected rapid expansion of African aviation in the coming years,” he said.
He was speaking at the official opening of the 45th Africa Airlines Association Assembly in Kwale.
The Conference has registered over 370 high profile aviation delegates from 55 countries in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, North and South America.
AFRAA President and Managing Director of Kenya Airways Titus Naikuni said the two-day meeting will evaluate growing air transport opportunities in Africa and how operators can provide safe, reliable, efficient and profitable air services to support the continent’s development.
“By taking stock of market realities, African Airlines will be able to mobilise the necessary resources and forge partnerships to grow their market share,” Naikuni said.
The conference is expected to conclude with the adoption of a number of resolutions urging airlines, governments and other stakeholders to act in concert to advances the course of African Aviation.