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June 20, 2024
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International airline lobby organization IATA and the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) will combine resources to drive the Focus Africa initiative. This program aims “to maximize aviation’s contribution to development across the African Continent by better serving passengers and shippers.”

Speaking from Nairobi on August 22, Kamil Al Awadhi, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, explained that the initiative has become a rallying point under which actors from the private and public spheres, commit to delivering measurable improvements in safety, infrastructure, connectivity, finance & distribution, sustainability, and skills development.

“AFRAA strengthens the Focus Africa coalition as we work to increase aviation’s role in Africa’s development. The road to realizing aviation’s potential will be long. But with the strong partnerships committed to Focus Africa, we can, and we will realize the needed change,” Al Awadhi said.

According to Abderahmane Berthé, AFRAA Secretary General, Africa holds enormous opportunity with the world’s fastest-growing population, accounting for just two percent of air passenger and cargo traffic.

“AFRAA fully supports and encourages collaboration in tackling the challenges and threats to the sustainability of Africa’s air transport sector. By joining IATA and the other Focus Africa partners, we can help propel this initiative, which will deliver widespread social and economic benefits,” Berthé said (on the main picture with Al Awadhi).

IATA and AFRAA are renewing a joint work program that, among others, focuses on improving regional connectivity through working with governments to support the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). Immediate action points include getting the 23 countries that have signed up to SAATM to ratify the accord and convince more to join the SAATM.

The duo will also combine efforts to get governments to free the $1.5 billion in blocked airline funds across the continent. IATA and AFRAA will also improve data sharing, prioritizing the accurate communication of aeronautical information and timely accident and incident reporting to drive operational safety in the continent.

The AFRAA and IATA collaboration comes at an auspicious time.  Especially the focus on “improve data sharing, prioritizing the accurate communication of aeronautical information.”   This collaboration would benefit from the work undertaken at AASA in South Africa. AASA’s CEO Aaron Munetsi’s vision is to share data among its members to improve decision-making in a highly competitive market.  Whereas competitive reaction is typically shy away from data sharing, data sharing helps the entire industry. 

For example, managers with only internal data to work and use anecdotal competition information almost always make “gut feel” decisions.  Running an airline is complex, and there are only so many misguided decisions between a going concern and financial collapse.  By having a clearer picture of the environment, data-driven decisions are made.  These are almost always better. It does not eliminate errors but does ensure better decisions based on rationality.  This straightforward deployment of game theory has been proven to work.

author avatar
Richard Schuurman
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016. Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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