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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Air Transport News interviews AFRAA Secretary General - Abderahmane Berthé

The interview recently done by Air Transport News (ATN) with the Secretary General of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA); Abderahmane Berthé.  


Air Transport News interviews AFRAA Secretary General - Abderahmane Berthé

ATN: Which are the challenges the African airlines face and how can you contribute?

AB: The main challenge for African airlines is the high cost of operations and most of African airlines are losing money currently for each passenger carried while global airlines are making profits.

African governments are levying high level of taxes on air transport business. Service providers on ground and air are among the most expensive worldwide. Fuel prices structure is not transparent in many stations and even some states are taxing fuel which is against the Chicago convention recommendation.

Airports and navigation infrastructure should also be upgraded to enable a seamless air transport system.

Market access is another critical challenge for airlines. AFRAA supports the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) project launched by the African Union Commission (AUC). SAATM will have a positive impact on air transport in Africa: better connectivity, reduced journey time, reduced tickets fares and sustainable airlines.

Complementing SAATM, the other AU Agenda 2063 flagship projects that envision an integrated Africa with seamless borders include: the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Free Movement Protocol for people and goods. 
As AFRAA, our three (3) action pillars contributing actions are: lobbying and advocacy, joint projects and cooperation, studies and market intelligence.

ATN: Where do you see AFRAA under your leadership?

AB: I took office in January 2018 as Secretary General of AFRAA. My mandate is to add value for AFRAA member airlines. Since one (1) year, under my leadership, there have been some changes to position AFRAA as the voice of African airlines. I would like to see AFRAA leading the airline industry in Africa to attain a sustainable, interconnected and affordable air transport industry where African Airlines become key players and drivers to African economic development.

ATN: Do you plan to add new members in AFRAA?

AB: AFRAA accounts for 43 members. For 2019 we have welcomed four (4) new members. We plan to add new members in AFRAA. The reason being that we have launched a new action plan in 2018 with joint projects which are intended to reduce costs and increase revenues for our member airlines.

ATN: African airlines are overtaxed. What can AFRAA do to reduce this issue?

AB: The level of taxes and charges is high in Africa if you compare to the other regions worldwide. In intra Europe for example you can fly 1.5 hours for less than 100$ when in Africa only taxes range from 50 to 150$. The consequence is higher ticket fares are unaffordable for African citizens. This situation is a hindrance to air transport development in Africa.

African governments need more awareness about the situation and engage in policies to reduce taxes and charges on passengers and airlines.

AFRAA is working with IATA and other stakeholders on a joint approach to coordinate and align strategies that will address the issue of high taxes and charges in Africa. Some of the strategies include: the establishment of economic regulators to ensure reasonable level of taxes and charges, the improvement of efficiencies by Air Navigation Service Providers to reduce navigation charges and the optimisation of fees and charges by airports to increase non-regulated revenues.

ATN: How you expect to see the next 3 years for AFRAA airlines?

AB: We have launched a new action plan and set up a new organization structure in 2018. The purpose is to better serve our members’ needs. African traffic represents less than 3% of world traffic when its population is 18% of the world population. Albeit the challenges Africa has a huge potential of development for years ahead. The traffic is said to double every 15 years.

AFRAA airlines needs to be prepared to take their market share from this development perspective. I look for an African air transport well connected where African airlines increase their market share and are more sustainable and where ticket fares are affordable for average African citizens. 

Air Transport News interviews AFRAA Secretary General - Abderahmane Berthé

ATN: Do you plan to cooperate with other organisations?

AB: We are keen to cooperate with other similar organizations to share views and best practices. We are participating to the annual meeting of regions airlines associations across the world.

We have an MoU since 2017 with ICAO on activities of common interest for both organisations aimed at the economic development of air transport in Africa.

We have signed in June 2018 an MoU with IATA and working together in matters related to African airlines challenges.

We have signed with Hermes in May 2019 an MoU and contribute to the opinion pieces. Hermes is publishing on critical matters of aviation industry.

We also have close relationship with AFCAC (African Civil Aviation Commission), ACI Africa (Airport Council International) and the Pan African Postal Union (PAPU).

ATN: In November Air Mauritius will host the AFRAA AGM. What are you expectations?

AB: The Assembly is the main annual event of our association. Gathering more than 500 delegates from worldwide, it is attended by aviation experts and stakeholders. Since last Assembly in Rabat, we are engaged to review the format of this event and make it more attractive and adding value for our delegates.

We thank Air Mauritius for hosting the next AFRAA AGA in Mauritius on 10-12th November 2019. The theme of the next AGA is “Success in an integrated and interconnected Africa”. It will highlight the need for a better connectivity in Africa and the air transport contribution for African continent integration. The programme includes presentations and panel discussions to exchange views on the current developments of aviation sector in Africa.

ATN: What are your main challenges/priorities for 2020?

AB: We have redefined our strategic objectives and our priorities and challenges are:
 
Safe, secure and reliable air transport;
Promote the industry best practices to support safe, secure and reliable air transport in Africa
 
Enhance the visibility, reputation and influence of African Airlines in the global Aviation industry; 
 
Sustainable air transport;
Advocate for the reduction of costs of air transport services in Africa by reducing taxes, fees and charges.

Strive for the implementation of cost-effective Human Resource Development

Lobby for market access to increase revenues and enhance connectivity for the aviation sector in Africa.
 
Cooperation
Undertake the implementation of joint initiatives aimed at reducing operating costs for airlines, increase revenues and market share.

Facilitate and encourage partnership among African airlines.

Data intelligence
Become a hub for data, intelligence and expertise on the African Aviation Industry.

ATN: How do you see the world of aviation in 2030?

AB: The world aviation industry is fast moving with new customers’ expectations.

Digitalisation is transforming the customers experience at all stages of their journey. New technologies will also play a critical role in aircraft designs and operations.

As we expect more and more passengers for years ahead, the industry needs to tackle the challenges related to its future expansion: safety, security, environment, infrastructure on ground and air, regulation, capacity building, market access and operational costs among others.

ATN: Any final thoughts that would like to share with ATN - Air Transport News readers?

AB: I thank ATN for having me for this interview. I am honoured for this opportunity to address the readers of ATN. As Secretary General of AFRAA, my view is that Air Transport will play a critical role in future development in Africa.

Source:
https://www.atn.aero/#/analysis.html?id=1991

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