The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on African carriers to establish costs structures to improve competitiveness of African aviation.
Its Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, Alexandre de Juniac, said statistics about aviation in Africa remained gloomy as airlines lose an average of $1.55 per passenger flown on the continent.
Speaking at the 50th Annual General Assembly (AGA) of the African Airline Association (AFRAA) in Morocco, he said operators and governments must evolve measures to stimulate aviation’s growth by releasing blocked funds and other things.
He said Africa is an expensive place to do business because of the heavy burden African countries extert on aviation, adding that taxes and charges in Africa are among the highest in the world.
Sadly, he said, many governments in Africa consider aviation as luxury rather than a sector necessary to drive the growth of the economy.
Juniac canvassed a paradigm shift in perception to reposition the sector as a catalyst for economic growth
He said aviation infrastructure in Africa has problems in two extremes, saying it is either overbuilt and expensive; and in other cases, deficient and cannot meet demand.
According to him, dialogue between industry and government is critical to ensuring that there is sufficient capacity to meet demand.
He also said airline technical and commercial quality standards are met and that the infrastructure is affordable, adding that achieving that will create the platform on which aviation’s economic and social benefits could be maximised.
Juniac said: “Africa is an expensive place for airlines to do business. There is no shortage of examples illustrating the heavy burden that governments extract from aviation. Jet fuel costs are 35 per cent higher than the rest of the world. User charges, as a percentage of airlines’ operating costs, are double the industry average. And taxes and charges are among the highest in the world. On top of that, $670 million of airline funds are blocked. Too many African governments view aviation as a luxury rather than a necessity. We must change that perception.”
He urged governments in Africa to maximise the positive social and economic power of aviation by working together to promote safe, sustainable and efficient air connectivity.
According to him, only 24 African states comply with at least 60 per cent of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices ( SARPS.)
Such arrangement, he said, is not good enough, saying African states need to be encouraged to make global safety standards a priority.
While calling for closer collaboration among African states, he said IATA has called for an aviation agenda focusing on improving competitiveness; developing effective infrastructure; modernising the regulatory framework with attention on global standards, connectivity as well as ensuring a well-trained and diverse work force.
He said airlines in Africa, on the average, lose $1.55 on every passenger, urging operators to establish competitive cost structures that enable growth and reduce blocked funds.