Abderahmane Berthé, Secretary General, African Airlines Association (AFRAA), participated in a panel session at the 2024 ACI Africa regional conference in Cairo, Egypt on February 26, 2024 on the theme: Unlocking the Potential of Aviation in Africa.

"Aviation is a core enabler of economic growth and development in Africa, connecting countries, people and goods with enhanced air connectivity, facilitating tourism and trade, and contributing to the social wellbeing and education of the communities," says a release from AFRAA.

Berthé emphasised on the following key issues to unlock the potential of Aviation in Africa:

*Low income and low purchasing power of African citizens

*High cost of operations/high fares/affordability

*Fuel: globally, 25 percent average operating costs; Africa 30-40 percent.

*Taxes, charges and fees: higher compared to other regions

*Market access restrictions: Many African states still deny traffic rights to African Airlines, affecting intra-Africa connectivity.

*Ease of visa restrictions: 50 percent of travellers need a visa before travelling; and

*Release of blocked funds impacting airlines’ performance

Berthé gave the status update on the roadmap/implementation of the first African aviation industry laboratory for the sustainability of air transport in Africa that was hosted by AFRAA in 2022.

The plans by aviation industry stakeholders who developed the roadmap for the sustainability of the African air transport industry committed to coordinate efforts include:

*Increase the number of fifth freedom city pairs in Africa to enhance intra-African connectivity.

*Develop guidelines and economic regulatory framework for rationalisation of taxes, charges and fees.

*Achieve competitive and affordable air travel to boost trade and tourism in Africa.

*Reduce the taxes on fuel and abolish custom duties on spare parts and aircraft in line with the relevant provisions of the ICAO Convention.

*Streamline and automate the flight permits acquisition processes across Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs); and

*Boost flight operation efficiency in African airspace to attain productivity gains for airlines and air navigation service providers.

"Traction has been made with tangible outcomes reported on the implementation of the Free Routing Airspace in Africa ongoing trials and the increase of 5th freedom city-pars within Africa from 14.5 percent to 19 percent as of 2023."

The panel, moderated by Emanuel Chaves, President, ACI Africa included:

Olivier Baric, Aviation Consultant

Mohamed Fala, President, El-Nakhil Tours Company

Jihad Boueri, Vice President, Transformation, SITA, Middle East & Africa; and

Mohamed Elsherbeiny, General Manager, International Offices Department, Egyptian Tourism Authority

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