AFRAA VIPS: Minister Gigaba (right centre) flanked by Dr Elijah Chingosho and Vuyisile Kona.
Speaking at the opening of the 44th annual general assembly of AFRAA, the African airlines association, in Johannesburg this morning, Minister Gigaba said aviation would be a driver of this growth policy.
“There is only 15% intra Africa trade now – that compares with 80% in Europe,” he said.
Opening the assembly, Gigaba said that air travel assumes important responsibility. “One of the challenges of African economy is the over reliance on the export of commodities. We should have inclusive growth and development,” he said. “Growth has a positive influence on commuting and travel across the continent. Aviation playas vital role connecting countries and cities to enable interaction with one another
“We need to focus on airlines to connect more countries and cities across Africa. , Together we must address issues of how to deal with the challenge of liberalisation to promote African airlines on the continent so that we are able to benefit from the economic prospects.”
Host and chairman of the conference, South African Airways chairman and acting CEO, Vuylsile Kona described that need for the African aviation industry to continue its momentum, as “critical” .
“It is critical because of the importance of the industry to Africa. There are 250,000 people directly employed and 6.7 million jobs indirectly linked to aviation on the continent, as well as $67.8 contribution to the economy
Kona said: “The road may look long but it is not a helpless one. Flights are turbulent but we know the landing will be good.”
He said safety, soaring fuel prices, lack of infrastructure in airports and air traffic management were among the key issues that the industry needs to face up to.
Secretary General of AFRAA, Dr Elijah Chingosho repeated his call that “Safety is the greatest challenge
“No country has ever been removed from the banned list, One third of states are on the blacklist and yet the EU airlines fly there, The EU blacklist is being used for commercial purposes” he told delegates.
Chingosho said AFRAA welcomed the decision of the EU to put its controversial emission trading scheme on hold for a year. “This recognises the global solution being determined by ICAO, and I urge African operators to support the ICAO moves on the environment.”
The assembly continues until tomorrow (Tuesday)
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