The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) concluded its 52nd Annual General Assembly on Tuesday with a rallying call for airlines to take specific measures to build resilience and emerge stronger after the crisis.
The assembly further called for a multi-sectoral and pragmatic approach by governments and stakeholders to support the recovery of the air transport industry and interrelated sectors such as tourism.
The general assembly which was hosted by TAAG Angola Airlines was held in a virtual format under the theme ‘Redefining Air Transport for a New Era'.
The Assembly brought together top African airline CEO's, industry partners, leaders of international and regional air transport associations including the African Union, IATA, ICAO, AFCAC, TIACA, and more than 400 delegates from 76 nationalities across the globe.
Speaking as the chief guest, the Angola transport minister Ricardo de Abreu said: "We are conscious of the enabling role that aviation plays in facilitating trade and growing our economies. As we collectively navigate these times, we will seek to emerge from this pandemic more resilient, organized, and determined to succeed."
In a comprehensive analysis of the industry's outlook for 2021 and beyond that was presented in AFRAA's annual report it was noted that recovery of traffic in Africa is expected to start with domestic markets.
Intra-African routes are projected to follow suit, while international traffic is expected to take more time to reach pre-crisis levels due to a challenging operating environment.
"This is a pivotal moment in our history as we aim to reposition the African air transport market towards recovery and sustainability. Now more than ever, operational challenges faced by African Airlines have to be prioritized and addressed, especially the high taxes and charges that hinder the growth and recovery of carriers on the continent," AFRAA's secretary-general Abdérahmane Berthé remarked.
"On our part as AFRAA, we tackled the crisis by resolutely pivoting our strategic and tactical resources to support recovery efforts. We have launched an interactive capacity sharing portal to provide access to market-leading services to African airlines, and developed a recovery plan revolving around nine pillars of interest to the sector and a comprehensive strategic plan that is geared towards helping the industry meet its aspirations," Berthé added.
During the assembly, key stakeholders emphasized the importance of coordinated efforts and a collaborative approach as a way to secure business continuity. An appeal was made to governments and development financial institutions to continue supporting the industry as a means to secure the continent's social and economic recovery given the sector's strategic contribution to national GDP.
"Our strategic deliberations at this 52nd AGA have set the foundation for the recovery and successful restart of our industry. Although we foresee a slow recovery, we are currently implementing key measures that will restore passenger confidence and optimize our operations for a more affordable and successful industry," TAAG Angola chief executive officer Rui Carreira said.
This year's summit saw the expansion of AFRAA's fraternity with two new members including Overland Airways Limited and Syphax Airways; bringing the association's membership to 47 African airlines.
Similarly, De Havilland Canada, PRODIGY Avia Solutions Limited, and South African Tourism joined the Associations' partnership programme which serves as a forum for industry-related organizations to support the development of air transport in Africa.
The 52nd AFRAA AGA re-elected Carreira president of the association for the year 2021.
Desire Bantu Balazire the Chief Executive of Congo Airways was elected chairman of the executive committee.
Yvonne Makolo the Chief Executive of RwandAir was elected 1st vice-chairperson of the executive committee while Amal Mint Maouloud, CEO of Mauritania Airlines was elected 2nd vice-chairperson for the year 2021.