International Air Transport Association ( ATA ) has helped to secure pledges for $30 billion to support air transport and tourism in Africa from some governments, international finance bodies and institutions such as the African Development Bank, the African Export-Import Bank, the African Union and the International Monetary Fund but much of the money failed to reach those in need, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa & Middle East, Mr Kamil Alwadhi, told the Aviation Africa 2022 Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
He also regretted to note that many African countries ignored IATA’s urgent pleas to provide other forms of relief through reductions and waivers of statutory charges, levies, taxes and user-fees as airlines faced unprecedented losses, and some didn’t survive the financial pressures of the two year covid -19 devastating pandemic.
, “In Africa, our hosts, Rwanda, were followed by Senegal, Burkino Faso and Cote d’Ivoire, in providing $311 million in financial support to their air transport sector in their respective countries,” Kamil Alwadhi stated .
While airlines worldwide lost a combined $42 billion last year, IATA’s outlook for 2022 sees the global loss reduced to $9.7 billion for the year and a return to industry-wide profit in 2023. Africa is on track to follow by the end of 2024.
Alwadhi noted that although the outlook is positive the business environment is challenging. “The unprecedented price of jet fuel, which is currently trading at a $50 a barrel premium over crude, is the biggest obstacle. For the year to date, the price of jet fuel has averaged $143 a barrel. This means airlines will spend $133 billion more for fuel in 2022 than they did last year,” he explained .
Where are we on the post-pandemic recovery?
Global demand for air travel continues to recover and is now at 74.6% of pre-COVID levels. Africa’s passenger traffic for July was 73.8% of its July 2019 level. For Rwanda, passenger traffic for July 2022 was 106% of its July 2019 level.
In the East Africa region the industry has staged a robust recovery with capacity back to 93.4 percent of 2019 levels. It is a similar picture in North Africa where capacity is about 6.9 percent down on this time in 2019.
The IATA Vice President emphasised that a skilled and professionally trained workforce is non-negotiable.” Investments in training and capacity-building must be a priority and we are ready to support, as we always have, in providing the needed training to build a generation of African aviation professionals who will grow the industry safely and effectively.”
He told the gathering that safety remains IATA ‘s main priority. “There is no room for compromise. While no African IATA members or operators on the IATA Operational Safety Audit register have suffered hull losses since 2020, some have experienced incidents which received wide public attention because the region’s accident rate remains the highest,” the IATA VP said adding that enhanced safety oversight particularly in the areas of reporting and investigation of incidents and accidents ; adopting a more aggressive approach to addressing the highest recurring operational risk – runway related accidents -safety data and information sharing by all stakeholders to build an accurate picture across the continent.
IATA VP Kamil Alwadhi said that the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area initiative and its supporting pillars, the Protocol on the Free Movement of People and the single African Passport and the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM), together represent the best opportunity for social and economic sustainability for the aviation industry on the vast African continent .
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