By Lawani Mikairu
The International Air Transport Association, IATA, has said Nigeria and other African countries are the most expensive places to do Aviation business in the world in spite of the fact that African aviation supports $55.8 billion of economic activity and 6.2 million jobs in the continent.
Speaking at the 50th Annual General Assembly meeting of the African Airlines Association, AFRAA, held in Rabat, Morocco, IATA’ Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Alexandre de Juniac urged governments in Africa to minimize cost and maximize the positive social and economic power of aviation by working together to promote safe, sustainable and efficient air connectivity
According to Juniac : “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.”
Nigeria domestic airline operators have consistently complained about the high cost of aviation fuel in the country which has now constituted 30% of their operational cost. This is aside double taxations and charges from the government and aviation agencies, who render services to these operators that are not commensurate with the money they pay them.
The IATA Boss also said safety, competitiveness, infrastructure would unlock the continent’s dividends of aviation and the world body must work closely with governments to enable aviation to be an even bigger driver of prosperity across the continent.
On safety, Juniac praised operators in the continent and said there was positive growth as : “Africa has had no jet hull losses for two years running and is two years free of any fatalities on any aircraft type, it’s clear that progress is being made. But more needs to be done. We urge governments to recognize the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) in their safety oversight programmes. With IOSA carriers performing three times better than airlines not on the IOSA registry, we have a convincing argument. Similarly states must push forward greater adoption of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS),” he said.
He however said only 24 African states have complied with at least 60 per cent of ICAO SARPS. “That is not good enough,” he said as he encouraged states to make global safety standards a top priority.
He therefore called for closer cooperation with governments and an aviation agenda to focus on improving competitiveness, developing effective infrastructure, modernizing the regulatory framework focusing on global standards and connectivity; and ensuring a well-trained and diverse workforce.
On infrastructure, Juniac said : “In Africa we have infrastructure problems in two extremes. In some cases it is overbuilt and expensive. In other cases, it is deficient and cannot meet demand. Dialogue between industry and government is critical to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to meet demand, that airline technical and commercial quality standards are met and that the infrastructure is affordable. Achieving that will create the platform on which aviation’s economic and social benefits can be maximized,” he added.