IATA calls for Africa to adopt global standards to improve aviation safety, connectivity


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on African governments to adopt and adhere to global standards in the interest of aviation safety and efficient air transport.

IATA said that connectivity is critical for African growth and development, supporting some 6.7 million jobs and $68 billion in economic activity. “Aviation’s economic and social benefits, however, can be undermined by the unintended consequences of government action which are not aligned with the established framework of global standards,” the Association cautioned.
“Global standards are the foundation upon which a safe, secure, and integrated global air transport system are built. The system is so reliable that we don’t often think about the enormous coordination that makes it possible. That is why we need to remind governments of the value of global standards that support aviation and the vibrancy of their economies,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO. The remarks were made in an address to the African Airlines Association’s 45th Annual General Assembly which is being held in Mombasa, Kenya.

“Improving safety is the biggest issue on the African agenda, and global standards play a crucial role in this area. Last year, nearly half of the fatalities on Western-built jets occurred in Africa. African governments recognized the need to improve safety in the Abuja Declaration’s goal of reaching world-class safety levels by 2015. IATA is actively contributing its expertise and resources to all the Abuja Declaration’s commitments,” said Tyler.

Key elements of the Abuja declaration include the completion of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) by all African carriers, the establishment of independent civil aviation authorities and the implementation of effective safety oversight systems. To broaden the base of IOSA carriers (outside of IATA’s membership), IATA is working with the International Airlines Training Fund to provide in-house training for ten African airlines.
“Governments must also up their game with more effective safety oversight. As of the end of 2012 only 11 African states had achieved 60% implementation of ICAO’s safety-related standards and recommended practices (SARPS) according to the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP). There has been some significant progress. But, to be very frank, overall I have not yet seen sufficient urgency in dealing with this fundamental issue. Meeting the Abuja Declaration’s 2015 commitment will require a major acceleration in the pace of implementation,” said Tyler.

Connectivity and Regulation
“The overall profitability of the African industry is hovering around break-even, making $100 million in good years and losing $100 million when times are more difficult. Africa faces many unique challenges, but as Africa’s economy takes-off, breaking even will not be enough to generate the investments needed for African aviation to seize the emerging opportunities and play the important role of stimulating development across the continent,” said Tyler.

Tyler said that for Africa to have a thriving aviation industry that benefits local economies, it needs to ensure globally aligned regulation, taxation and the provision of infrastructure. “Today – possibly without realizing it – governments are weakening the integrity of the air transport system by introducing different and sometimes conflicting passenger rights regulations, overly onerous taxes and charges.”

Tyler pointed out several areas where government policies breech ICAO principles, notably regarding fuel. He said that the competitiveness of African aviation is being compromised by the exceptionally high price of aviation fuel on the continent. On average jet fuel is about 21% more expensive in Africa than the global average. Kenya and Ethiopia are key players in African aviation and both have onerous levies on international fuel which do not comply with ICAO policies and standards.

With regard to security, in several cases airport security charges recover more from users than is required to keep air transport secure. In Chad, for example, passengers pay $80 per round-trip. And similar situations exist in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea. Among the causes are private sector security companies who lobby governments to develop national security regimes with funding from air transport.

Recently, IATA engaged the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority over proposed steep increases in air navigation and safety oversight charges. “By engaging in a dialogue we agreed on a much more reasonable increase that provides value for money. Dialogue is critical to reach mutually beneficial outcomes,” said Tyler.

IATA was optimistic about the future of aviation in Africa, noting that Africa’s 1 billion people are spread across a vast continent with a wealth of untapped resources. The African economy is rapidly developing, its people are growing wealthier and governance is more stable. “Africa is the continent of opportunity for aviation. The future is still being created. By keeping global standards at the heart of our efforts, I am convinced that the future will be bright,” said Tyler.