The African Airlines Association (AfRAA) called for more collaboration among African airlines and governments in tackling the industry challenges facing African carriers during the opening of the association’s 51st annual general assembly in Mauritius on Monday. Secretary-general Abderahmane Berthe said that all stakeholders should collaborate to address the pressing challenges that African carriers face, including high taxes, market access, and higher operational costs. According to Berthe, the cost of jet fuel runs 35 percent higher in Africa than in the rest of the world, conspiring with bureaucratic challenges to result in consistent losses.
“While the global airline industry is making $6.80 in profit per passenger African carriers are incurring a loss of $1.09 per passenger,” Berthe said.
Berthe also highlighted the issue of the failure by some African countries to repatriate airline funds are facing foreign currency shortage are blocking airlines funds. African and other international airlines that sell in local currencies often cannot repatriate their sales revenue to their home countries.
Regarding liberalization, Berthe said 32 African countries have signed the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) agreement out of 54, while 18 of them have signed the implementation agreement. “We know that there are challenges but all stakeholders should cooperate and collaborate in tackling the challenges,” he added.
Africa, which represents 16 percent of the global population, accounts for only 3 percent of global air traffic.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on governments and industry in Africa to concentrate on four priorities to allow aviation to drive economic and social development on the continent. In his opening remarks, IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac listed safety, cost competitiveness, opening the continent to travel, and trade and gender diversity as the key areas African countries should address.
De Juniac also stressed the need to open intra-Africa air connectivity. “My message to governments on this triumvirate of agreements is simple—hurry-up! We know the contributions that connectivity will make to the UN SDGs. Why wait any longer to give airlines the freedom to do business and Africans the freedom to explore their own continent,” he said.
Aviation contributes $55.8 billion to the continent's GDP and supports 6.2 million jobs. Forecasters expect the demand for air travel to double in the next two decades. With a 4.6-percent compound annual growth rate, Africa ranks as the second fastest-growing region after the Middle East.