Nahimah Ajikanle Nurudeen
The African Airlines Association concluded its 48th Annual General Assembly and Summit in Victoria Falls, Republic of Zimbabwe at the Elephant Hills Hotel, with a call for collaboration among African airlines to craft innovative solutions to the challenges facing aviation industry.
The Assembly also called upon States to recognize and appreciate the critical social and economic value of aviation and air transport and urged them to facilitate the sustainable development of the aviation industry.
The three-day conference which was convened under the high patronage of Honourable Dr Jorum Gumbo, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development of the Republic of Zimbabwe, who was represented by his Deputy, Eng. Michael Madanha, was held under the theme: “Managing the Survival and Market Recovery of African airlines” and was attended by over 500 high profile delegates from 48 countries across the world.
Opening the 48th AGA and Summit on behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe, Honourable Eng. Michael Madanha thanked AFRAA for the opportunity to host the AGA in Zimbabwe which was the third time for the country to play host to this important event.
He highlighted the priority accorded to aviation by the Zimbabwe Government witnessed through various infrastructure projects and initiatives at all the major airports in the country. In particular, he cited the upgrading of Victoria Falls International Airport to world class standards.
“The airport now boasts of a 4kilometer runway, which is capable of handling wide body aircraft, a modern air traffic control tower and a state of the art terminal building with a greatly increased passenger handling capacity. We are also continuing to upgrade our regional and domestic airports to the industry
expected standards.” he said.
In his speech, Honourable Eng. Michael Madanha also took stock of various challenges facing the airline industry in Africa and called for greater support by African governments and cooperation by all stakeholders to come up with innovative solutions that will not only ensure survival of the airlines, but also the industry’s viability and sustainability.
Capt. Ripton Muzenda, CEO of Air Zimbabwe and President of AFRAA in his speech expressed appreciation to the Government of Zimbabwe’s commitment to the growth and development of aviation in the region which was evidenced by its continued support of its national airline, Air Zimbabwe as well as investments in aviation infrastructure. Following the official opening of Victoria Falls Airport after it was upgraded to international standards in November 2016, Capt Muzenda invited other airlines to consider direct flights into Victoria Falls from the various tourism hubs in Africa.
“On our part as Air Zimbabwe, we have plans to link our own tourism hub – Victoria Falls, with the various regional and international source m arkets as we seek to expand our route network, he said. ”
Dr. Elijah Chingosho, AFRAA Secretary General in his welcome remarks applauded the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe for the remarkable strides it had made in infrastructural development.
“These investments facilitate the development of the Republic of
Zimbabwe as one of Africa’s most eminent tourist destinations and spur the development of aviation,” he said.
He further commended Zimbabwe for being among the 15 States that have
declared their solemn commitment to fully open their skies immediately, unconditionally in accordance with the Yamoussoukro Decision and appealed to the remaining African states to join
the 15 to help in the realisation of the far-sighted vision of a Single African Aviation market.
“This will help spur the development of African aviation which currently accounts for less than 3% of global traffic and where intercontinental traffic is dominated by non-African carriers, he added.”
In line with the opening up of African skies, he urged governments to remove non physical bottlenecks to the movement of people and goods such as restrictive visa regimes and onerous customs clearance procedures.
On safety, Chingosho commended various stakeholders including AFRAA, IATA, AFCAC, ICAO, civil aviation authorities, airports and governments among others for their efforts towards the enhancement of a safety culture that had resulted to the accident rate in Africa in 2015 being the lowest in decades. Among other areas that needed support to facilitate aviation development in Africa, Chingosho called for the implementation of policies to reduce the high industry costs, the protection of Africa’s rich bio-diversity and infrastructural development to cope with the growing needs of the airline industry as well as the realization of a single African air transport market in 2017.
Aviation leaders at the Assembly discussed various challenges facing African aviation and made resolutions on key focus areas.
The AGM also brought in appointment of officers as AFRAA AGA elected Mr. Mbuvi Ngunze, CEO of Kenya Airways as Chairman of the Executive Committee. Mr. Abderahmane Berthé, CEO of Air Burkina was elected the First Vice Chairman while Mr. Safwat Musallam, Chairman of EgyptAir Holding Company was elected as 2nd Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee.
The AFRAA Executive Committee has oversight responsibility for the Association and crafts policy as well as overseeing implementation of projects and programmes by the Secretariat.
The Assembly also re-elected two new members to replace those whose term of office on the Executive Committee expired at the close of the 48th AGA: Mr. Abderahmane Berthé CEO of Air
Burkina was elected to represent the West/Central Africa Region while Mr. Musa Zwane, CEO of South African Airways was elected to represent the Southern Africa region.
The two members will serve for a term of 3 years up to the close of the 51st AGA.
The Assembly recognized companies and individuals for their remarkable performance and contribution to aviation industry in 2015.
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