Avi­a­tion & Tourism: Clear skies or tur­bu­lence ahead?

Nomad Africa Magazine - - Inside Issue11 - Words: NI­COLE LESCHINSKY

Orville and Wil­bur Wright, com­monly known as The Wright broth­ers, were two Amer­i­can in­ven­tors who ar­guably pi­o­neered the avi­a­tion in­dus­try by in­vent­ing and fly­ing the world’s first air­plane in 1903. Although the first flight only lasted twelve sec­onds, the vi­sion of the Wright broth­ers and other in­ven­tors in­spired and de­vel­oped an in­dus­try that would take trans­porta­tion to un­prece­dented heights.

avi­a­tion is one of the fastest grow­ing sec­tors, par­tic­u­larly on the African con­ti­nent. The Air Trans­port Ac­tion Group (ATAG) lists avi­a­tion as be­ing re­spon­si­ble for close to 63 mil­lion jobs glob­ally in 2014, di­rectly con­tribut­ing $2.7 tril­lion to the world GDP. In 2015, air­lines around the world car­ried nearly 3.6 bil­lion pas­sen­gers. Eco­nomic ben­e­fits of avi­a­tion not only in­clude em­ploy­ment, but a plethora of in­dus­tries: world trade, man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies, com­mer­cial air­craft op­er­a­tors, air­ports, air nav­i­ga­tion ser­vice providers and sus­tain­abil­ity of other eco­nomic sec­tors.

Air trans­port is es­sen­tial for tourism in Africa. With 54% of in­ter­na­tional tourists trav­el­ling by air, it en­cour­ages eco­nomic in­vest­ment, im­prov­ing in­no­va­tion and ef­fi­ciency in busi­ness and in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion. Many re­mote ar­eas are still in­ac­ces­si­ble by rail or road and can only be ac­cessed by air, mak­ing it a vi­tal life­line to re­gions for tourism rev­enue and es­sen­tial sup­plies like healthcare.

ATAG an­nounced, “In 2034, there will be over 5.8 bil­lion global pas­sen­gers and avi­a­tion will sup­port 99 mil­lion jobs, or $5.9 tril­lion in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity. How­ever, if growth were to slow by just 1%, the to­tal num­ber of jobs sup­ported by the air trans­port sec­tor (in­clud­ing tourism) would be 10.5 mil­lion lower and there would be a $690 bil­lion lower world GDP, with $350 bil­lion po­ten­tially lost through lower tourism ac­tiv­ity”. Of the 6.9 mil­lion jobs sup­ported by avi­a­tion across the African con­ti­nent, 428 000 are within the in­dus­try it­self and the rest are sup­ported as part of the in­dus­try’s sup­ply chain and tourism sec­tor.

Tourism re­lies so heav­ily on avi­a­tion that with­out it, eco­nomic growth would be im­pos­si­ble, par­tic­u­larly in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. Con­sider re­mote is­lands such as Mau­ri­tius. In 2017, the num­ber of tourist ar­rivals in­creased by 6.1% to reach

1 360 000 p.a., with tourism earn­ings in­creas­ing by 5.2% at Rs 58.8 bil­lion. The Bank of Mau­ri­tius is fore­cast­ing tourism earn­ings at Rs 61.6 bil­lion for 2018. Mau­ri­tius’s main sources of tourists in­clude France, the UK, Ger­many, South Africa and In­dia. With­out air travel, the num­bers would de­crease dra­mat­i­cally, with travel by sea be­ing far too time con­sum­ing. Since 2005, avi­a­tion in Africa was dom­i­nated by ten coun­tries: South Africa (17.2 mil­lion pas­sen­gers in 2015), Egypt (10.2 mil­lion), Ethiopia (7.1 mil­lion), Morocco (6.8 mil­lion), Al­ge­ria (5.9 mil­lion), Kenya (4.9 mil­lion), Tu­nisia (3.5 mil­lion), Nige­ria (3.2 mil­lion), Libya (2.6 mil­lion) and Mau­ri­tius (1.5 mil­lion). Pas­sen­ger growth in that pe­riod was high­est in Nige­ria, with a 331% in­crease and although Ethiopia is the third big­gest mar­ket, it en­joys the sec­ond high-

est growth at 324%. In 2015, these num­bers cap­tured 85% of the mar­ket out of 74 mil­lion pas­sen­gers trav­el­ling to and from Africa. Mov­ing for­ward, the fastest growth rate of pas­sen­gers is pre­dicted to be in coun­tries such as Ethiopia, Gam­bia, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Mali, Mozam­bique, Rwanda, Sene­gal, Sierra Leone Benin, Chad, Tan­za­nia, Togo, Uganda and Zam­bia – all pos­ing to in­crease more than 7.2% and dou­bling their mar­ket ev­ery decade.

Num­bers recorded in 2015 in­di­cate that pas­sen­ger traf­fic from only 25 African coun­tries rep­re­sent 97.7% of the en­tire avi­a­tion mar­ket in Africa – mean­ing the other 29 coun­tries are prac­ti­cally dor­mant in the mar­ket. These fig­ures high­light why Africa cur­rently only owns 2% of the global avi­a­tion mar­ket, de­spite hav­ing a pop­u­la­tion mass of over 1.2 bil­lion peo­ple, or 16% of the world pop­u­la­tion.

It is ev­i­dent that there is enor­mous po­ten­tial for growth. Many African coun­tries are not yet reap­ing the eco­nomic re­wards from tourism. Of course, po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic chal­lenges are hur­dles, in­clud­ing mis­man­aged heav­ily state-con­trolled na­tional car­ri­ers. Lack of fund­ing has re­sulted in many air­lines ac­crue­ing huge debt, when con­sid­er­ing the high cost of pur­chas­ing and main­tain­ing air­craft and air­ports. A sin­gle-aisle air­craft, like the Air­bus A320 or Boe­ing B737-800 costs around $98 mil­lion. Wide body air­crafts, like the Air­bus A350-800 and Boe­ing 7879 Dream­liner each cost roughly $270 mil­lion.

In a highly com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment, African na­tional car­ri­ers have to face large global air­line com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Lufthansa from Frank­furt and Air FranceKLM, which cover roughly 40 African cities. Emi­rates flies to 22 African coun­tries via Dubai, in­clud­ing South Africa, Morocco and Mau­ri­tius. Low-cost air­lines en­ter­ing the mar­ket are chal­leng­ing the large brands; for ex­am­ple, South Africa’s Ku­l­ula and Tan­za­nia’s Fast­jet air­lines. Af­ter Morocco signed an open skies agree­ment with the Euro­pean Union in 2006, Euro­pean low-cost air­lines are also en­ter­ing the mar­ket, such as fly­dubai, which flies to twelve African des­ti­na­tions, in­clud­ing Egypt and Tan­za­nia.

The 1999 Ya­mous­soukro De­ci­sion was a com­bined pledge to open up air trans­port mar­kets in Africa to transna­tional com­pe­ti­tion. Only 12 African coun­tries signed the pledge: South Africa, Sene­gal, Tu­nisia, Uganda, Al­ge­ria, An­gola, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Namibia and Nige­ria. Un­for­tu­nately, progress to­wards lib­er­al­i­sa­tion has been slow, par­tic­u­larly for pas­sen­gers fly­ing east to west on the con­ti­nent. Many trav­ellers still have to fly via ma­jor Euro­pean air­ports, a time-con­sum­ing and costly ex­er­cise, which dis­cour­ages both tourism and trade to re­gions such as La­gos or Kam­pala.

The African Air­lines As­so­ci­a­tion (AAFRA) is com­posed of na­tions of the African Union (AU) and fa­cil­i­tates co­op­er­a­tion be­tween African air­lines. The AU launched the Sin­gle African Air Trans­port Mar­ket (SAATM) in Jan­uary this year in Ethiopia, an ini­tia­tive that com­bines nu­mer­ous safety and security reg­u­la­tions. The first man­date un­der its Agenda 2063 aims to cre­ate a uni­fied air trans­port mar­ket and the lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of in­tra-Africa travel. To date, only 23 coun­tries have signed, in­clud­ing South Africa, Kenya and Nige­ria. African car­ri­ers trans­port roughly 18% of in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­gers in and out of Africa, whereas for­eign air­lines are grow­ing their fleets and carry 82% of in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­gers.

Ethiopian Air­lines – the largest air­line in Africa – has com­mended the AU’s de­ci­sion to pi­o­neer the an­tic­i­pated SAATM. Ac­cord­ing to Te­wolde Ge­bre­mariam, CEO of Ethiopian Air­lines Group, most of the air­lines on the con­ti­nent are “rel­a­tively small when com­pared with the rest of the world air­lines” and would ben­e­fit from join­ing forces.

In­terVISTAS man­age­ment con­sul­tants re­leased a re­port in 2014, not­ing that the lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of air trans­port re­stric­tions across just 12 African na­tions would al­ready cre­ate 155 000 jobs and con­trib­ute $1.3 bil­lion to the GDP. De­spite the avi­a­tion in­dus­try be­ing one of the fastest­grow­ing in­dus­tries in Africa, chal­lenges re­main. Although visa reg­u­la­tions were cre­ated with the in­ten­tion of curb­ing hu­man traf­fick­ing, the re­sult­ing fees and has­sles are driv­ing away busi­ness and leisure trav­ellers.

Rwanda and Ghana of­fer visa-free ac­cess to cer­tain AU mem­ber coun­tries, or al­ter­na­tively visa on ar­rival. This has­sle-free process has re­sulted in these ar­eas mak­ing the most progress of all African states to­ward a visa-free Africa for Africans, ac­cord­ing to the Africa Visa Open­ness Re­port 2017 by the African Devel­op­ment Bank (AfDB). Com­mis­sioner of in­fra­struc­ture and en­ergy, Abou-Zeid Amani be­lieves that in­tra-Africa travel will be re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing 300 000 di­rect and 2 mil­lion in­di­rect jobs.

"More than 500 mil­lion Africans will ben­e­fit from this huge, sin­gle air mar­ket and will help the sig­na­tory coun­tries stim­u­late their economies, fur­ther pro­mote trade among them­selves, and give a tremen­dous boost to tourism," she said. The AU is of the opin­ion that the SAATM will en­cour­age fur­ther dereg­u­la­tion of visa re­stric­tions and move to­wards a com­mon African pass­port for eas­ier move­ment and in­ter-African trade.

Africa’s big­gest avi­a­tion mar­ket, The Air­lines As­so­ci­a­tion of South­ern Africa (AASA), CEO Chris Zweigen­thal high­lighted the im­por­tance of avi­a­tion to

Of the 6.9 mil­lion jobs sup­ported by avi­a­tion across the African con­ti­nent, 428 000 are within the in­dus­try it­self and the rest are sup­ported as part of the in­dus­try’s sup­ply chain and tourism sec­tor.

tourism. “The per­for­mance of the air­line in­dus­try, par­tic­u­larly from an in­ter­na­tional per­spec­tive, re­flects the per­for­mance of the tourism in­dus­try, one of the South African Gov­ern­ment’s six im­per­a­tives for growth,” Zweigen­thal ex­plained. “It’s un­for­tu­nate that the devel­op­ment and growth of African avi­a­tion has been held hostage by the in­abil­ity of African states to work to­gether to en­sure the devel­op­ment of an ef­fec­tive net­work.” “Com­pe­ti­tion in the air­line in­dus­try in Africa is in­tense and a num­ber of play­ers are in­creas­ing their foot­print on the con­ti­nent. With­out a tal­ent pipe­line, air­lines and other avi­a­tion busi­nesses face a calami­tous fu­ture,” he said. The In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion (IATA), a global air­line in­dus­try or­gan­i­sa­tion, pre­dicted that African air­lines were posed to make com­bined losses of $350 mil­lion (R4.6 bil­lion) in 2017 – $100 mil­lion (R1.3 bil­lion) of it from South Africa’s air­lines. The global avi­a­tion in­dus­try, in com­par­i­son, was fore­cast­ing a $31 bil­lion net profit. South African Air­line SAA cur­rently own ap­prox­i­mately 50 air­craft, Egypt Air own 54, Royal Air Maroc own 57 and Ethiopian Air­lines op­er­ate a fleet of 94 air­craft. Ethiopian is also one of only four air­lines in Africa with over 5 mil­lion an­nual pas­sen­gers. To cope with the in­creas­ing de­mand, some 20 000 new pi­lots, en­gi­neers and tech­ni­cians will be needed and more than 1 000 new air­craft will be re­quired across the African fleet.

South Africa holds the largest avi­a­tion mar­ket on the con­ti­nent, yet the South African air­line in­dus­try is fac­ing sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges. Air­lines in the re­gion have a long his­tory of losses, ir­reg­u­lar and waste­ful ex­pen­di­ture and de­lays of fi­nan­cial re­ports. Main­te­nance of records, prop­erty, air­craft equip­ment and in­ven­tory – along with age­ing fleets – add to a lack of cap­i­tal and for many, clo­sure. In South Africa alone, air­lines in­clud­ing

Since 2005, avi­a­tion in Africa was dom­i­nated by ten coun­tries: South Africa (17.2 mil­lion pas­sen­gers in 2015), Egypt (10.2 mil­lion), Ethiopia (7.1 mil­lion), Morocco (6.8 mil­lion), Al­ge­ria (5.9 mil­lion), Kenya (4.9 mil­lion), Tu­nisia (3.5 mil­lion), Nige­ria (3.2 mil­lion), Libya (2.6 mil­lion) and Mau­ri­tius (1.5 mil­lion). Pas­sen­ger growth in that pe­riod was high­est in Nige­ria, with a 331% in­crease and although Ethiopia is the third big­gest mar­ket, it en­joys the sec­ond high­est growth at 324%.

1Time; Na­tion­wide Air­lines; Vel­vet Sky and Sky­wise have all ceased op­er­a­tions in re­cent years. Volatile ex­change rates, in­cur­ring debt and cap­i­tal de­fi­cien­cies are a se­ri­ous con­cern for air­line com­pa­nies. Nige­ria re­cently came out of a re­ces­sion and the South African econ­omy was rated at junk sta­tus by global rat­ings agency S&P global in 2017. A re­port by the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum shows that although South Africa ranks first in trans­port in­fra­struc­ture, it was ranked 17th in the air trans­port in­dus­try cost com­pet­i­tive­ness. Out of 37 African coun­tries, South Africa per­formed poorly in terms of air ticket taxes, air­port charges and value-added tax. The coun­try scored in 19th place in visa open­ness.

IATA re­ports that the con­tri­bu­tion of avi­a­tion to the South African econ­omy gen­er­ates $12 bil­lion, or 3.5% of the na­tional GDP, while sus­tain­ing ap­prox­i­mately

490 000 jobs, in­clud­ing the tourism sec­tor. An­nu­ally, 390 000 aero­planes take off and land from South Africa’s ma­jor air­ports in­clud­ing OR Tambo, which saw more than 18.5 mil­lion pas­sen­gers pass­ing through in 2014. Air trans­port in South Africa is re­spon­si­ble for fa­cil­i­tat­ing over $140 bil­lion in for­eign in­vest­ment, $10 bil­lion in ex­ports and around $9.2 bil­lion in in­bound leisure and busi­ness tourism.

Africa’s Fu­ture Avi­a­tion Sec­tor

De­spite chal­lenges, there are pos­i­tive signs for African avi­a­tion. De­vel­op­ing coun­tries foster eco­nomic growth and in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment, in­jected by the in­flux of tourists and for­eign in­vest­ment. Ac­cord­ing to IATA, air­line safety in Africa has im­proved tremen­dously dur­ing the pe­riod of 2017. It was the sec­ond suc­ces­sive year that the African con­ti­nent re­ported zero fa­tal ac­ci­dents and no jet hull losses. In a global mar­ket, it is vi­tal for

Many African coun­tries are not yet reap­ing the eco­nomic re­wards from tourism. Of course, po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic chal­lenges are hur­dles, in­clud­ing mis­man­aged heav­ily state-con­trolled na­tional car­ri­ers. Lack of fund­ing has re­sulted in many air­lines ac­cru­ing huge debt, when con­sid­er­ing the high cost of pur­chas­ing and main­tain­ing air­craft and air­ports.

African air­lines to ad­here to strict global stan­dards, in­clud­ing the IATA Op­er­a­tional Safety Au­dit (IOSA) and the IATA Safety As­sess­ment (ISSA), as well as ICAO’s (In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s) safety stan­dards and rec­om­mended prac­tices (SARPS).

IATA has fore­cast that pas­sen­ger num­bers to and from South Africa will be more than dou­ble from 23.6 mil­lion in 2016 to more than 54 mil­lion by 2036 as a re­sult of the an­nual growth rate of 4.3% in lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional air travel. The global in­dus­try, in com­par­i­son, is pro­jected to in­crease only by 3.5%.

A His­tory of the African Avi­a­tion Land­scape

For most of pre­vi­ously-colo­nialised Africa, the on­set of the avi­a­tion in­dus­try be­gan with mil­i­tary in­flu­ence. The African avi­a­tion in­dus­try was largely in­flu­enced by Europe, where air­lines were still par­tially owned by mul­ti­ple gov­ern­ments. Prior to in­de­pen­dence, the na­tional air­lines of Bel­gium, Por­tu­gal, France and Spain served their African colonies with their own na­tional air­lines. Af­ter gain­ing in­de­pen­dence, each coun­try wanted to rep­re­sent their in­de­pen­dence with their own air­line car­ry­ing their re­spec­tive flag.

More than 500 mil­lion Africans will ben­e­fit from this huge, sin­gle air mar­ket and will help the sig­na­tory coun­tries stim­u­late their economies, fur­ther pro­mote trade among them­selves, and give a tremen­dous boost to tourism." Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, African Union Com­mis­sioner for In­fra­struc­ture and En­ergy

A long line of African air­lines were mis­man­aged or given in­suf­fi­cient fund­ing by their re­spec­tive gov­ern­ments and many were forced into liq­ui­da­tion. Other air­lines formed part­ner­ships in or­der to gain global ac­cess to net­works and be­gan to of­fer fre­quent flyer pro­grammes, slowly gain­ing recog­ni­tion and suc­cess in a very volatile in­dus­try. Ex­am­ples of global air­line net­works in­clude SAA, a mem­ber of Star Al­liance since 2006; Kenya Air­ways, a mem­ber of SkyTeam since 2007 and Ethiopian Air­lines, a mem­ber of Star Al­liance since 2011.

Kenya Air­ways was es­tab­lished in 1977 af­ter the East African Com­mu­nity was dis­solved and East-African Air­ways was dis­banded. By 1997, Kenya Air­ways took de­liv­ery of the first new Boe­ing 737-300 air­craft for the pur­pose of do­mes­tic and African re­gional travel. In 2006, Kenya Air­ways had won the ‘African Air­line of the Year’ Award for the fifth time in seven years and in 2011 the air­line had car­ried 3 mil­lion pas­sen­gers. The air­line is cur­rently fo­cused on ex­pand­ing the fleet to 107 air­planes and in­creas­ing its des­ti­na­tions to 115 by 2021.

Ethiopian Air­lines has be­come one of the con­ti­nent’s lead­ing car­ri­ers that is both prof­itable and boasts a net­work in­clud­ing Africa, Europe, North and South Amer­ica, Mid­dle East and Asia. Its "Vi­sion 2025" growth strat­egy is to be­come the lead­ing avi­a­tion group in Africa, and the air­line has re­ceived mul­ti­ple awards. In 2016, Ethiopian was the first air­line in the world to fly the Air­bus A350XWB air­craft in Africa and the first African air­line to pur­chase these new air­craft.

In South Africa, Union Air­ways Ltd was the first civil air­mail ser­vice, pi­o­neer­ing com­mer­cial avi­a­tion in South Africa and lead­ing to the for­ma­tion of South African Air­ways (SAA) in 1934. In 1952, Johannesburg opened Jan Smuts In­ter­na­tional Air­port (now OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional). By the 60s, SAA had al­ready car­ried more

The per­for­mance of the air­line in­dus­try, par­tic­u­larly from an in­ter­na­tional per­spec­tive, re­flects the per­for­mance of the tourism in­dus­try, one of the South African Gov­ern­ment’s six im­per­a­tives for growth.” Chris Zweigen­thal, CEO, Air­lines As­so­ci­a­tion of South­ern Africa.

South African Air­line SAA cur­rently own ap­prox­i­mately 50 air­craft, Egypt Air own 54, Royal Air Maroc own 57 and Ethiopian Air­lines op­er­ate a fleet of 94 air­craft. Ethiopian is also one of only four air­lines in Africa with over 5 mil­lion an­nual pas­sen­gers. To cope with the in­creas­ing de­mand, some 20 000 new pi­lots, en­gi­neers and tech­ni­cians will be needed and more than 1 000 new air­craft will be re­quired across the African fleet.

than a mil­lion pas­sen­gers and pur­chased 41 new air­craft from Air­bus for $3.5 bil­lion – the largest jet­liner ac­qui­si­tion Africa had seen. Dur­ing this pe­riod, South Africa was re­in­stated as a mem­ber of the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion and the global Star Al­liance for world­wide air travel.

Re­cent avi­a­tion de­vel­op­ments across the con­ti­nent

De­spite in­fra­struc­ture chal­lenges, the ma­jor­ity of air­ports, air­craft and tech­nol­ogy are be­ing up­graded in Africa in or­der to ac­com­mo­date the grow­ing de­mand. Sene­gal’s brand new in­ter­na­tional air­port opened in 2017 as the coun­try aims to po­si­tion it­self as a 21st Cen­tury re­gional air hub. Other ma­jor air­ports un­der­go­ing up­grades in­clude Cape Town in­ter­na­tional air­port, which is con­struct­ing new run­ways at a cost of over R3,2 bil­lion and a R100 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional de­par­ture lounge and board­ing gates. In 2014, An­gola spent $2.1 bil­lion on air­port con­struc­tion, while Nige­ria air­port up­grades cost in the re­gion of $1.07 bil­lion and Cairo $18.5 bil­lion. IATA’s Vice Pres­i­dent for Africa, Raphael Ku­uchi, be­lieves that it will be vi­tal to ad­dress con­nec­tiv­ity is­sues for fur­ther growth. “In­creased in­tra-African air con­nec­tiv­ity is es­sen­tial, if Africa is to seize the op­por­tu­ni­ties for growth promised by its de­mo­graphic and re­sources ad­van­tages.

“It is ab­surd that it is pos­si­ble to travel thir­teen times a week from Nairobi to Lon­don, yet im­pos­si­ble to travel di­rectly from Nairobi to Dakar. A po­ten­tial five mil­lion pas­sen­gers a year are be­ing de­nied the op­por­tu­nity to travel, trade and spread eco­nomic and so­cial devel­op­ment,” Ku­uchi says.

Nige­ria’s na­tional car­rier has had a dis­mal his­tory; how­ever, Avi­a­tion Min­is­ter, Hadi Sirika is in process of re­viv­ing the air­line, as­sur­ing scep­tics that the pro­ject is a pri­or­ity on the na­tional agenda. The pres­i­dent of travel spe­cial­ist Sabre West Africa, Gbenga Olowo, pro­posed that the gov­ern­ment should merge the re­main­ing lo­cal air­lines into three main car­ri­ers to be able to com­pete in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket.

The cost of jet fuel will con­tinue to rise as the Dol­lar strength­ens against many African cur­ren­cies and many air­lines are now in­ves­ti­gat­ing us­ing bio-fuel, which is

In South Africa alone, air­lines in­clud­ing 1Time; Na­tion­wide Air­lines; Vel­vet Sky and Sky­wise Air­lines have all ceased op­er­a­tions in re­cent years.

more cost ef­fec­tive and less harm­ful on the en­vi­ron­ment. Air­ports will con­tinue to be­come more au­to­mated. Air­ports Com­pany of South Africa (ACSA) and the gen­eral African air­line in­dus­try are in the process of stream­lin­ing self-ser­vice checkin and mo­bile travel man­age­ment apps. In fu­ture, de­vices will al­low pas­sen­gers to check in their bags from home via a smart­phone, and eTag and eTrack GPS and Blue­tooth sys­tems will be able to track lug­gage any­where in the world. Ac­cord­ing to IATA, five spe­cific tech­nolo­gies will com­pletely trans­form the avi­a­tion in­dus­try in years to come. These in­clude ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI), bio­met­ric tech­nol­ogy, blockchain, re­mote sens­ing tech­nol­ogy, IATA’s New Dis­tri­bu­tion Ca­pa­bil­ity (NDC) and ‘One Or­der’. AI is al­ready be­ing used in mul­ti­ple in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, man­u­fac­tur­ing and avi­a­tion. 14% of air­lines and 9% of air­ports are al­ready us­ing bots for cus­tomer ser­vice queries. The fu­ture of travel will be hav­ing a 24-hour bot travel as­sis­tant that is able to pre­dict per­sonal pref­er­ences and se­lect a user ex­pe­ri­ence based on his­tor­i­cal data. In fu­ture, 3D print­ing will also fea­ture as a cost-sav­ing ini­tia­tive. Stud­ies are cur­rently un­der­way to use 3D print­ing for man­u­fac­tur­ing parts such as seat buck­les and brack­ets, which could sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce cost and weight in an air­craft, burn­ing less fuel and re­quir­ing less raw ma­te­ri­als for pro­duc­tion.

Bio­met­ric tech­nol­ogy is al­ready a part of ev­ery­day life and is aimed at pro­cess­ing pas­sen­gers rapidly by us­ing iris recog­ni­tion, fin­ger­print or face iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. The pro­ject is part of IATA’s One ID pro­ject, and it matches any of the char­ac­ter­is­tics men­tioned with pass­port and flight book­ing data. Pas­sen­gers will then only need to show iden­ti­fi­ca­tion once. African coun­tries are al­ready us­ing this tech­nol­ogy to col­lect data for security and bor­der con­trol.

Sci­en­tists are pre­dict­ing that global warm­ing will cause in-flight tur­bu­lence to be­come more se­vere in fu­ture due to un­sta­ble wind and tem­per­a­ture fluc­tu­a­tions. By the year 2050, in­tense tur­bu­lence could in­crease over Africa alone by 51%. Tur­bu­lence is re­spon­si­ble for hun­dreds of costly in­juries to crew and pas­sen­gers ev­ery year. The in­dus­try is in the process of in­ves­ti­gat­ing laser tech­nol­ogy that could pre­dict tur­bu­lence in the flight­path via light pulses. IATA is also in the process of cre­at­ing a knowl­edge-shar­ing plat­form for pi­lots and air traf­fic con­trol to gather real-time data and weather warn­ings. Blockchain is an­other tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment aimed at stream­lin­ing se­cure pay­ment pro­cesses for book­ings and re­mov­ing un­nec­es­sary steps to cut costs. NDC and One Or­der is a tech­nol­ogy that will use a mod­ern XML-based in­ter­net lan­guage stan­dard­ised be­tween air­line web­sites and air­line ticket dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tems. The sys­tems will be able to per­son­alise pas­sen­ger pur­chases and col­lect

Kenya Air­ways was es­tab­lished in 1977 af­ter the East African Com­mu­nity was dis­solved and East-African Air­ways was dis­banded. By 1997, Kenya Air­ways took de­liv­ery of the first new Boe­ing 737-300 air­craft for the pur­pose of do­mes­tic and African re­gional travel. In 2006, Kenya Air­ways had won the ‘African Air­line of the Year’ Award for the fifth time in seven years and in 2011 the air­line had car­ried 3 mil­lion pas­sen­gers.

data for travel agents to tai­lor-make pack­ages.

Drone tech­nol­ogy will im­pact the fu­ture of avi­a­tion in mul­ti­ple ways. Rob Ea­gles, di­rec­tor of air traf­fic man­age­ment in­fra­struc­ture at IATA be­lieves that un­manned air­craft sys­tems (UAS) – or drones – will be used to trans­port pas­sen­gers in fu­ture. "Our goal is to fa­cil­i­tate this new branch of avi­a­tion by de­vel­op­ing stan­dards to sup­port safe, ef­fi­cient, or­derly, re­li­able and sus­tain­able high-fre­quency drone op­er­a­tions into the airspace sys­tem. The ques­tion is not ‘if’ any­more, but ‘when’" says Ea­gles.

Cé­line Hour­cade, head of cargo trans­for­ma­tion at IATA refers to tri­als al­ready be­ing car­ried out for air­port sur­veil­lance, bird con­trol, de­liv­er­ies and hu­man­i­tar­ian aid all us­ing drone tech­nol­ogy. "Ex­ist­ing and new air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ers are all work­ing on un­manned air­craft projects," says Hour­cade. She iden­ti­fies three main as­pects of avi­a­tion that hold un­capped busi­ness po­ten­tial, in­clud­ing trans­port of pas­sen­gers, trans­port of goods and ground op­er­a­tions. "Drones could un­lock com­mu­ni­ties with­out trans­port in­fra­struc­ture and could be cost-ef­fec­tive al­ter­na­tives to tra­di­tional air­craft," says Hour­cade. "This is an op­por­tu­nity for our mem­ber air­lines to cap­ture new mar­kets, open new routes, re­duce costs and in­crease rev­enues." Avi­a­tion is a cat­a­lyst for growth and devel­op­ment on the African con­ti­nent. Ris­ing costs of fuel, labour and tech­nol­ogy are risks to prof­itabil­ity, but the ben­e­fits of the air trans­port in­dus­try are es­sen­tial to any econ­omy for tourism, trade and in­vest­ment to flour­ish. It is im­per­a­tive that gov­ern­ments work to­gether to lib­er­alise con­nec­tiv­ity and min­imise re­stric­tive reg­u­la­tions and un­rea­son­able tax­a­tion to en­cour­age tourism and build in­fra­struc­ture, while part­ner­ing with global gov­ern­ing bod­ies to main­tain net­work­ing re­la­tion­ships. There is no doubt that there will be tur­bu­lence ahead in African skies, but a clear fore­cast is on the hori­zon.

“It is ab­surd that it is pos­si­ble to travel thir­teen times a week from Nairobi to Lon­don, yet im­pos­si­ble to travel di­rectly from Nairobi to Dakar. A po­ten­tial five mil­lion pas­sen­gers a year are be­ing de­nied the op­por­tu­nity to travel, trade and spread eco­nomic and so­cial devel­op­ment.” Raphael Ku­uchi, Vice Pres­i­dent, IATA’s Africa.

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