De Juniac’s remarks were prepared for the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) AGM, which is taking place in Rwanda. De Juniac could not attend the conference, but his speech was relayed to the delegates by IATA VP-Africa Raphael Kuuchi.
De Juniac’s comments focused on the “gap” between Africa’s aviation potential and the current reality. “Over a billion people are spread across this vast continent,” he said. “Aviation is uniquely placed to link Africa’s economic opportunities internally and beyond.”
But he noted challenges faced by the African airline industry. “Many airlines struggle to break even,” de Juniac stated. “And, as a whole, the African [airline] industry will lose $1.50 for each passenger it carries. Governments should be aware that Africa is a high-cost place for aviation. Taxes, fuel and infrastructure charges are higher than the global average. Additionally, insufficient safety oversight, failure to follow global standards, and restrictive air service agreements all add to the burden that stands in the way of aviation’s economic and social benefits.”
Safety is the “number one priority,” de Juniac said. He noted there were no passenger fatalities or jet hull losses in sub-Saharan Africa last year, and congratulated the industry on this achievement. “When turboprop operations are included, sub-Saharan Africa recorded 2.3 accidents per million flights against a global average of 1.6 accidents per million flights,” he pointed out. “African safety has improved, but there is a gap to close. Global standards such as the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) are the key. Performance statistics for IOSA show that the accident rate of the 33 IOSA registered carriers in sub-Saharan Africa is half that of carriers not on the registry. That’s why I urge African governments to use IOSA in their safety oversight.”
De Juniac said only 22 African states have reached or surpassed implementation of 60% of ICAO’s standards and recommended practices for safety oversight. These ICAO guideposts “are critical global standards,” he said.
Beyond safety oversight improvements, de Juniac called for more “intra-Africa air connectivity,” adding, “Opportunities are being lost simply because convenient flight connections are not available … If just 12 key African counties opened their skies, [IATA estimates] we would see a demand for 5 million more passengers [annually], creating 155,000 jobs and expanding the continent’s annual GDP by $1.3 billion.”
This kind of connectivity is hampered by airlines experiencing “varying degrees of difficulty repatriating revenues earned in Africa from their operations in Angola, Algeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan and Zimbabwe,” de Juniac said. “Practical solutions are needed so that airlines can reliably repatriate their revenues. It’s a condition for doing business and providing connectivity.”
(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)