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aerobd.news: The resounding message from Africa’s aviation community attending this year’s buzzing Aviation Africa summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was that all stakeholders must cooperate and collaborate to achieve a sustainable aviation future. Delegates debated existing and new challenges as discussions surrounding coronavirus, sustainability, and the need for more open African skies, unified 600 attendees from 70 countries.

Speaking on the opening day of the conference IATA special envoy to Africa, Raphael Kuuchi, gave the body’s latest COVID-19 update stating that In December 2019, IATA forecasted 3.8% African RPK growth for 2020, but this has been narrowed to 3.4% following the outbreak. “Previous disease outbreaks have peaked after one to three months and recovered to pre-outbreak levels in six to seven months,” Kuuchi told Aviation Africa delegates. Basing its predictions on the 2003 SARS outbreak IATA anticipates that the virus is expected to have a deeper impact than SARS, costing the industry around $29 billion in 2020. Kuuchi used the Aviation Africa forum to call on governments to relax taxes and charges through this crisis and called for air traffic control slot retention rules to be moderated.

Addressing the key theme of sustainability a panel of experts working across Africa’s aviation sector underlined the call for multilateral engagement to achieve the goal. Africa boasts more hours of bright sunshine than any other continent and solar energy is increasingly being used as a renewable energy source at airports across the continent. Alternative means of carbon reduction through the deployment of new technologies and other means are also being considered with eVTOL vehicles expected to feature prominently in African skies. Delegates were in agreement that it’s a matter of when, not if, and that the introduction of eVTOLs into African airspace requires collaboration across the board. Rwanda has already pioneered a regulatory framework for drones that could be applied.

Abderahmane Berthé, Secretary General AFRAA, stated that more efficient use of airspace would make a significant contribution to carbon reduction. Citing connectivity as one of the major challenges he said, “Currently 22% of Africans travelling between two cities on the continent are forced to travel through non-African hubs, often transferring in Europe or the Middle East. However, this situation can be reversed through network development and scheduled coordination at African hubs.”

To achieve cleaner, more efficient skies will require a massive transformation from stakeholders across the industry working together to push boundaries and think outside the box. “The implementation of SAATM will result in enhanced connectivity and reduced journey times as well as lower airfares. A successful and viable African aviation industry requires concerted efforts and collaboration from governments, regulatory authorities, airlines, airports, ANSPs, suppliers of aviation products and services and of course the passengers themselves.”

The Aviation Africa event went ahead despite the coronavirus outbreak demonstrating the resilience of the industry, and its members, in times of adversity. It also showcased the commitment of the organisers to ensure that they continue to provide platforms giving industry leaders the opportunity to share industry knowledge and continue the essential dialogue required to ensure a sustainable aviation future. The sixth Aviation Africa will once again return to Kigali for Aviation Africa 2021, 24 & 25th February. Aviation Africa is supported by Ethiopian Airlines and the Ministry of Transport Ethiopia.

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Syed Ahnaf Tahmid

Syed Ahnaf Tahmid