Bright future for aviation in Africa

Africa’s Transport and Infrastructure Show 2014 saw a large gathering of transport industry professionals flock to the Sandton Convention Centre on 1 and 2 July 2014. The Trade Show was organised by Terrapin.

COVER attended the Aviation Outlook for Africa on the first day.

Blue skies for Africa’s aviation

Sylvain Bosc, the newly appointed General Manager: Commercial of South Africa Airlines, said: “The future looks bright for aviation in Africa.” He supported his statement with the following compelling arguments.

He said: “Emerging African countries will capture their largest share ever of the world’s total economic growth.

“Intra-African trade will rise at double digit rate for the foreseeable future.”

Bosc said that foreign direct investments are increasingly directed towards Africa, boosting business traffic. He said the increasing urbanisation and emerging of African middle class will help boost the aviation sector. He argued that tourism, a key aviation driver, is yet underdeveloped and leaves enormous opportunities for growth in Africa.

Challenges to overcome

Bosc said there are two factors holding African airlines back.

The first is that African countries today do not offer the environment needed to base an airline. Requirements for a favourable environment are, among others, GDP size, domestic market size, political stability, total middle class population, diaspora abroad able to travel, tourism infrastructure, quality of public infrastructure, and international trade connection.

In the end, said Bosc, it is very expensive to operate an airline.

The second factor affecting Africa’s aviation industry is the ability of the Middle Eastern carriers to absorb much of the long haul growth

How can African aviation resist?

Bosc said it is imperative that governments and airlines work together to bring about change.

Airlines must avoid complacency by reducing the cost base to become or remain competitive. African airlines must build a stronghold that will become a desirable port of entry for long haul traffic. They must cooperate with other African airlines to build an interconnected continental network.

Governments can do their part by adopting an aviation policy. This whole of state policy can address issues like the coordination of state-controlled airports and airlines; visa requirements; asset financing facilitation; traffic rights; and promotion of tourism.

Governments can assist market forces in creating an open skies model; and creating an environment where privately-held airlines can feed long haul flights from foreign carriers.

For pictures of the opening event, visit our Facebook page and check out our Aviation Africa photo album.

Written by Annetjie van Wynegaard