The African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA), which launched five years ago at EBACE 2012, is back with its “Africa Pavilion” (Booth V70) and news about a significant new event at Lanseria Airport near Johannesburg this November.
Rady Fahmy, AfBAA executive director and CEO, told AIN that the African Business Aviation Conference (AfBAC) will take place at Execujet’s facility at Lanseria, northwest of Johannesburg, November 30–December 1 (two weeks after the Dubai Air Show) rebranded as AfBAA Expo. AfBAA’s original plan was to hold an event in Cape Town, November 8-11. Last year’s AfBAC event there proved very successful, said Fahmy. But having spoken to OEMs and other stakeholders, he said, they determined that Jo’burg was the “centre of gravity” for business aviation for South Africa, if not for the entire southern half of the continent. He admitted that “it was a difficult decision to move away from Cape Town.”
The Lanseria event will include a static aircraft display and exhibition, marking a growth trajectory for the event, which AfBAA hopes to hold every two years. In 2018, AfBAA will again stage events ahead of the biennial African Aerospace & Defence (AAD) show, which will be near Pretoria (September 19-21, 2018). Fahmy said AfBAA has a “cordial” working relationship with AAD co-organizer CAASA (Civil Aviation Association of Southern Africa), and wouldn’t hold the AfBAA Expo again until 2019, and every two years alternating with AAD after that.
Meanwhile Fahmy told AIN (in late April) that by EBACE 2017, there could be a resolution as to which association officially represents North Africa, with IBAC acting as moderator between AfBAA and MEBAA (which now stands for the Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association).
Here at EBACE, AfBAA is holding an Access Africa seminar for one hour today [Monday]. “EBACE is like coming home for us,” said Fahmy, reflecting on its fifth anniversary. “Access Africa will take place on Monday at EBACE, 12:30-to-13:30,” he noted, the focus being on better educating EBACE attendees about the African market.
Also, AfBAA has signed MoUs with AATO (the Association of African Aviation Training Organizations) and JAATO (Europe’s JAA Training Organisation). Training is a big focus, alongside safety, said Fahmy, while he admitted that the association is not yet tackling broader issues full-on. “We [the AfBAA board] decided it was not time to handle issues such as the gray market and aviation’s environmental impact in Africa, as the fundamentals are not even there at the governmental level in many countries.” By this he meant that business aviation is not understood at all in many of Africa’s 54 countries.
This is why AfBAA’s main decision at last November’s AfBAC event was to focus more on educating regulators and politicians on how business aviation differed from scheduled air transport. “In Ethiopia we are planning a ‘Business Aviation 101’ for civil aviation officials, to say we fly too, but we do it differently,” said Fahmy. The date for that event has not been set yet, but it is being organized in collaboration with AATO/JAATO.
“Africa is 54 countries, but currently we are focusing on six or seven that represent 80-90 percent of business aviation,” said Fahmy. “But we are also active at a higher level and we’re building relations with ICAO (AFCAC) and IATA.”
He added that in other regions of the world, such as Asia, people understand business aviation better than in Africa. “We’re different than AsBAA [the Asian Business Aviation Association]. Even in Indonesia, Malaysia and definitely China they’re aware of business aviation, but in Africa we don’t have that, with a few exceptions, such as Kenya. It’s a very different universe we’re in.”
He said AfBAA is “in discussions” about hosting a regional symposium soon focusing on Kenya. He also noted that links with AsBAA could be in the cards, given Chinese interests in Africa. “We have a good relationship with AsBAA, and we hope they’ll be at our conference in November.”
Fahmy said AfBAA had a membership of 121 as of late April. “We want to continue our growth, and we are restructuring our membership, which we will also announce at EBACE. We’re looking to enhance the benefits.” In addition he said, “Another interesting strategy is ‘10X in 5’ —that is, to have 10 times its current membership within the next five years.”
Finally, asked about market data—something AfBAA founding chairman Tarek Ragheb has been highlighting—Fahmy said, “This is part of the next strategy and is one of the most pertinent [items] that is high on our list to kick-start this year. There isn’t a single organization that publishes this data, so the first task is to find the data, working with FBOs etc. to build the database.”