What you need to know:
- While presenting the performance of the sector, the AFRAA Secretary General, Mr Abderahmane Berthe, said there is a projected growth in the sector and it only requires member states to open up and solve the challenges.
The Vice President, Maj (Rtd) Jessica Alupo, has called upon different African airlines to work together with their member states and ease connectivity with Africa to ease the movement of people and goods.
While officially opening the 55th African Airlines Association Annual General Assembly (AFRAA) in Kampala on November 20, Ms Alupo said it is disheartening to see Africans spending a lot of money to travel within Africa, to the extent that others need to get out of the continent before they return to countries of their respective destinations.
“I will use my own example. Recently I was traveling to Zambia, I had to board from Entebbe International Airport to Addis Ababa [in Ethiopia] then turned around, passed through Uganda before reaching our destination. This was the same case when we were going to Cuba to attend the G77 Summit,” she said.
“The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has described air transport as the business of freedom. It is indeed the business of freedom, because air transport shrinks both time and distance, facilitates the movement of goods, people and investment. Through easing travel, air transport also promotes economic and social integration by facilitating those connections that bring us closer as human beings,” she added.
A total of 569 delegates yesterday kicked off the two-day summit whose main aim is to discuss challenges affecting the industry and their solutions.
The Minister of Works and Transport, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, listed Covid-19, ongoing wars in Sudan, and Ukraine as the major challenges facing the sector .
“All these challenges call for smart thinking and collaboration in the search for solutions. They also add a sense of urgency to the need to walk the talk on various initiatives that are meant to improve the viability of African aviation,” he said.
While presenting the performance of the sector, the AFRAA Secretary General, Mr Abderahmane Berthe, said there is a projected growth in the sector and it only requires member states to open up and solve the challenges.
He quoted the latest statistics from IAT which indicated that African Airlines carried 67 million passengers in 2022, posting a 55.8 percent growth compared to 2021.
“AFRAA estimates the revenue loss for 2022 at USD 3.5 billion, representing 20% of 2019 revenues. This will narrow down to USD 1 billion in 2023,” he said.
Safety, connectivity, and air transport sustainability, he said are some of AFRAA’s 2024 commitments which will grow the sector.
“The commitment to these engagements demonstrates AFRAA’s proactive approach to ensuring a conducive environment for airlines’ operations across the African continent,” he said.
The CEO of Uganda Airlines, Ms Jenifer Bamuturaki, reiterated Ms Alupo’s call for market liberalisation to increase intra-African travel and justify the investment that operators need to make in additional capacity, infrastructure upgrades and regulatory revisions.
“On a positive note, initiatives to open up the continent’s aviation and improve connectivity are gaining traction. At least two-thirds of African states have signed up to SAATM and are at different stages of implementation,” she said.
IATA regional vice president, Mr Kam Al Awadhi, called upon African governments to invest in the aviation sector because their continuous failure to do so will see cripple economic development.