Africa aviation seeing strong growth


According to an article in the Financial Mail ,Africa’s aviation industry is seeing strong growth in arrivals, but competition between airlines is hampered by regulations that seek to protect national carriers and give them most of the benefits of growth.

According to Forsyth Black, senior vice-president for Africa, Middle East and India at Menzies Aviation, the industry is about to boom.

“As the world comes to Africa looking to reap the benefits offered by emerging markets, the industry on the continent is already starting to expand, with new contracts and tenders coming on stream,” he says.

Last year saw the launch of Fastjet, a regional African airline backed by Lonrho and Stelios, which founded EasyJet in Europe.

Entirely new airports are now being built in Senegal, St Helena and Mozambique. Also, new terminals and refurbishments are being completed in Morocco, Mauritius and Mozambique.

However, access between African countries is far from open.

Vuwani Ndwamato, director of air transport at the department of transport, says the continent has made little progress since the Yamoussoukro declaration adopted by the African Union in 1988 to liberalise air travel between member states.

Some countries have been hesitant to open up their skies to competition from foreign-owned airlines that are more advanced than their own underdeveloped national airlines.

“Countries such as Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo are not fully liberal in terms of allowing airlines to operate freely,” Ndwamato says. Some countries claim their histories of conflict put them at an unfair disadvantage in competition. “These claims are true to an extent and these countries need to take advantage of their own markets and add value,” he says.

Ndwamato says the countries closest to SA have the most restrictive systems. Mozambique, for instance, allocates numbers of seats to airlines on the basis of what its own national carrier’s surplus capacity is. “They may give an airline 2000 seats in a week and the airline needs to see how it allocates them to each day.”

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is approaching saturation in terms of the number of airlines, and governments want to protect their national carriers. “Mozambique is one of the fastest-growing economies in the region but even the country’s new infrastructure investments don’t necessarily mean it is opening up its airports [to other airlines],” he says. “It will come, but after a while

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