Open skies pol­icy takes cen­tre stage at AFRAA sum­mit

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Leonard Ncube in Vic­to­ria Falls

THE 48th Africa Air­lines As­so­ci­a­tion ( AFRAA) An­nual Gen­eral As­sem­bly of­fi­cially opened here yes­ter­day amid calls for African coun­tries to se­ri­ously con­sider com­mit­ting them­selves to lib­er­al­is­ing the airspace.

The lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of the airspace or open sky for Africa is the off­shoot of the Ya­mous­soukro De­ci­sion, which African states agreed on and rat­i­fied.

About 21 states will start im­ple­ment­ing the pol­icy in 2017.

Only 15 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Zim­babwe, have im­ple­mented the pol­icy.

Of­fi­cially open­ing the con­fer­ence, Trans­port and In­fras­truc­tural De­vel­op­ment Deputy Min­is­ter En­gi­neer Michael Madanha said African Gov­ern­ments are com­mit­ted to a safe op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment to air­lines.

“African gov­ern­ments take se­ri­ously the re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure a safe and prof­itable op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment for our air­lines. We are alive to the fact that avi­a­tion in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment in the form of more run­ways, mod­ern air traf­fic con­trol sys­tems, board­ing gates and in­creased ca­pac­ity or air­ports to han­dle pas­sen­gers and cargo are ma­jor con­cerns for air­lines,” he said.

Eng Madanha said Zim­babwe had made huge strides in try­ing to meet these ex­pec­ta­tions as shown by its pro­gramme of up­grad­ing air­port fa­cil­i­ties.

“Is­sues of safety and se­cu­rity on the air­lines call for greater sup­port and co­op­er­a­tion. African gov­ern­ments have en­dorsed an AU backed plan aimed at ad­dress­ing these con­cerns,” added Eng Madanha.

He said the sum­mit comes on the back­drop of many chal­lenges fac­ing air­lines.

“These in­clude hits on pas­sen­ger and cargo yields em­a­nat­ing partly from in­tense com­pe­ti­tion, thin route net­works, in­ap­pro­pri­ate equip­ment, safety re­lated con­cerns, neg­a­tive im­pact of our in­dus­try and the en­vi­ron­ment, as well as the high cost of do­ing busi­ness,” said the Deputy Min­is­ter.

He chal­lenged del­e­gates to har­ness all their skills and busi­ness acu­men to come up with in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions that will not only en­sure sur­vival of air­lines but also in­dus­try’s vi­a­bil­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence later on, AFRAA sec­re­tary gen­eral Dr Elija Chin­gosho said air­lines were fac­ing a myr­iad of chal­lenges that need ur­gent at­ten­tion by all stake­hold­ers.

“AFRAA will con­tinue to lobby gov­ern­ments for

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