Posted by Sade Williams
Former President of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Dr. Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu; Former director general, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren; Director Generals of Civil Aviation Authorities in West Africa and other stakeholders on Wednesday, gave sundry solutions to challenges facing air transportation in West Africa.
They said, among other things that political will is needed for the implementation of the much talked about Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and development of the sector as a whole in West Africa.
They all spoke at the ongoing High Level Ministerial Meeting on Enhancing Air Transport Connectivity and Growth in West Africa, organised by Federal Ministry of Aviation in conjunction with International Partners for Aviation Development, Innovation and Sustainability (iPADIS), which is being held virtually.
According to Aliu, who is the founder of iPADIS, governments and industry leaders in the region need to turn the crisis arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, into an opportunity for development of the sector, adding that the region has the potentials to do so with political.
“COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge to have happened to air transportation, coupled with pre-Covid challenges , the pandemic further exacerbated the challenges in Africa. But African governments should collaborate to address the challenges of the sector and those posed by COVID-19, and vigorously chart a path of recovery . African aviation should not plan to return to pre-COVID but plan for profitability.
“We consider air transport in the West Africa region need urgent attention and support than in any other region. ECOWAS has the potentials to turn the condition into a profitable opportunity in the region, we need the pollical will and determination to turn these crises into opportunity for development. Governments and industry leaders can revatalise the sector.”, he said.
Also speaking, Demuren said to solve a major part of air transportation problems in West Africa, there is need to have ‘a single West Africa hub’.
“We need a single West Africa hub, let us turn West Africa to a domestic hub, let’s have an open sky for West Africa, let us dismantle the obstacles but we need the political support of our Ministers, once we do this, the issue of connectivity will be addressed. We also need the support of governments in the area of FOREX, single digit interest rate for airlines as well as airlines embracing technology.”
Former director General, Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, Ing. Simon Allotey said, ‘ We know the issues confronting aviation in Africa, what is required for implementation is political commitment because some of the issues are beyond what aviation stakeholders can discuss. The will power, collaborations at state levels are needed, we should be able to convince the Ministers to own the solutions.’
Secretary general, African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Abderahmane Berth; Captain Edward Boyo, Chief Executive Officer, Overland Airways; Director general, Civil Aviation Authority of Gambia, Abdoulie Ebrima, all called for government subsidies, elimination of protectionism within the region , abolition of high taxes and creation of enabling environment and good infrastructure by governments.
Captain Musa Nuhu, director general of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, who was the moderator of the day, said air transportation has the potential to grow trade in the region, adding that there are about 40 international airports in the region. He said despite the challenges of COVID-19, the region has the potentials, with determination, to succeed. According to him, ‘each new day is an opportunity to start afresh ‘.
Regional Director, Advocacy and Strategic Relations for Africa, International Air Transportation Association (IATA), Adefunke Adeyemi also called for government partnership with the industry, adding that improve in digitalization by airlines and implementation of SAATM and he African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) in the region will go a long way in solving the huge problems confronting the sector.