The African Aviation Industry Group (AAIG) recently held a high-level webinar to deliberate on practical solutions for the reduction of high cost of air transport operations in Africa. Staged under the theme: “Achieving Affordable Air Transport across Africa”, stakeholders at the webinar agreed on a set of actions for implementation with defined timelines to achieve the goal of sustainable African aviation industry.
In addition to the main topic of the webinar, which is the high cost of aviation in Africa, aviation stakeholders at the webinar further identified key challenges affecting the sustainability of African aviation such as safety and security concerns, poor intra-Africa connectivity/market access limitations and inadequate infrastructure, among others.
At the event, aviation stakeholders agreed the industry has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, for which the restart and recovery must be viewed as an opportunity to address the issue of high operational costs in Africa.
These include excessive and unjustified taxes, charges and other government-imposed fees and levies on international aviation, all of which have negative impacts on the industry’s competitiveness and national economies.
The AAIG, therefore, urged countries to adhere to the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s policies on User Charges and Taxation on International Air Transport. These are the reference documents, which can ensure that all states levy fully justified aviation charges and taxes.
“It is therefore important that there is an appropriate regulatory body in each state to oversee and ensure the implementation of these policies. Only under such a favourable regulatory environment, can we expect to see lower industry operating costs translated into lower fares for passengers,” read a statement from AAIG.
The continental aviation group noted that African aviation also faces a high cost of financing; “Aviation is very capital intensive and access to competitive financing will contribute to reducing the operating cost to African airlines. The risk perception is very often biased and leads to high interest rates, which generate high cost of ownership and high fares if any financing at all. African financing institutions have a role to play in de-risking the aviation sector, in order to allow more favourable terms for the sector,” AAIG stated.
For equivalent distances, it is an undisputable fact that air ticket fares are higher in Africa compared to other regions. Due to the prevailing low GDP in most African states, its citizens cannot afford to fly as often as citizens from other continents. AAIG urged stakeholders to address the fact that African citizens pay the highest fares to travel by air, regionally and internationally. In this regard, AAIG stated that appropriate measures need to be taken by governments to reduce the cost of aviation to make travel more affordable for African citizens.
Over 250 participants comprising representatives of African aviation institutions, development agencies, African airlines, civil aviation authorities, airport operators, airline associations, government entities, aircraft manufacturers, aviation solutions, and service providers attended AAIG’s recent webinar.