Business aviation in East Africa today is benefitting from improving infrastructure, as well as increased recognition by governments and civil aviation authorities of the sector’s requirements, according to Tanzania-based Kilimanjaro Aviation Logistics Centre (KALC).
“There has been visible development in infrastructure that supports general aviation operations in East Africa,” KALC general manager Stanley Joseph told AIN. “In Tanzania, Julius Nyerere International Airport is seeing expansion with the new Terminal 3 in progress to finish soon. Dodoma Airport and Mwanza Airport have been targeted to be modernized to international standards. Tanzania’s government has [also] opened [a] diplomatic lounge for general aviation traffic, as well,” he said.
Kilimanjaro International Airport is gaining importance as a business aviation hub, with companies like Via Aviation and Swissport Tanzania now operating successful businesses there.“KIA has had a major renovation and expansion to accommodate management of multiple commercial and general aviation flights. It has a spacious hangar that can accommodate four or more large aircraft at a time. Customs, immigration and quarantine can now be arranged within the hangar premises,” he said. “Kenya and Rwanda are also undertaking similar development work at some of their airports to ensure they can cater to the needs of general aviation traffic.”
KALC (Booth X88) is an affiliate of trip support group Universal Weather and Aviation and was founded nine years ago to meet growing demand for trip support across Africa. Universal Aviation, the ground support division of Universal, recently added a dedicated supervisory agent in Ethiopia.
FBOs, dedicated general aviation support facilities, and other business aviation opportunities on the continent are also making progress in East Africa, Joseph said. “Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia are locations with great potential. Ethiopia has developed a long-term plan to develop Addis Ababa airport. [Several] dedicated general aviation terminals are [planned], which indicates that government is increasingly understanding general aviation’s role in the economy,” he commented. “These locations have increasing [volumes] of general aviation traffic, and [while there is a] lack of infrastructure, the commitment of governments to improve services is enormous.”
International organizations such as AfBAA, IBAC, and MEBAA are helping African business aviation progress, especially on the regulatory side. Gradually, as a result of these efforts, governments and civil aviation authorities are beginning to understand the need to have infrastructure in place that caters to the sector, he said.
“The coming together of general aviation stakeholders and government officials to discuss [industry] issues has served as a platform to put in place, as well as steer, regulations that will help general aviation business thrive in Africa. There is still some way to go, but thanks to such international organizations, general aviation in Africa is now getting the attention it deserves,” he said. “AfBAA is actively involved with the Ethiopian CAA [ECAA] to increase awareness. With these efforts, we have experienced the ECAA accommodating general aviation’s needs with an open mind. This is positive and the trend is spreading around the region.”
Ethiopia’s status as a global capital on par with New York and Geneva, through its position as the African Union’s headquarters and location for several supranational bodies, has made it a focus too.
“Traffic to Ethiopia continues to grow, stimulated by both government initiatives to attract investors as well as being fairly open to foreign investment. We feel strongly that this trend will continue,” Joseph said.
However, Ethiopian airports remain a challenge for KALC customers. “Ethiopia continues to be an important [but] potentially stressful destination for our clients, so we ensure we’re meeting their needs,” Joseph stated. “We’ve added resources allowing us to be able to provide supervisory services at all Ethiopian airports.”
In 2016, KALC introduced a new concierge service in 10 African countries, a number Joseph expects to double in 2017, as he strives to ‘bulletproof,’ as he puts it, clients’ missions in Africa.
“Our concierges serve as an on-the-ground extension of Universal’s trip support teams, working closely to confirm services on the ground and make sure everything the client needs is arranged. This is especially important in a challenging operating environment like in parts of Africa,” he said. “Part of our advantage as an affiliate of a global trip management company is the access to global resources, but also close coordination with their trip support teams and ground handling locations. We are also interested in feedback from operators on specific locations in Africa where they would like to see us add additional concierge agents.”