Ethiopian Airlines named as AFRAA’s airline of the year


(Posted 13th November 2014)

The African Airlines Association yesterday concluded its 46th Annual General Assembly and summit in Algiers, Algeria with a call for States, airlines, service companies, airports, opinion leaders and indeed all the stakeholders to embrace the opening of African skies and the development of intra-African connectivity. To facilitate this, all stakeholders were urged to play their part towards the single African aviation market before it is too late. The three-day conference was held under the theme ‘Winning Together through Innovation and Collaboration’ and was

attended by over 360 high profile delegates from 45 countries across the world.

Opening the 46th AGA and Summit, Honourable Ammar Ghoul, the Minister of Transport of the Republic of Algeria, called upon African airlines to forge strong partnerships amongst themselves in order to broaden their networks in the face of stiff competition from airlines outside the continent. He encouraged airlines to develop intra-African networks and added that the Government of Algeria on its part was fully supporting its national carrier, Air Algérie, in its Strategic Development Plan 2013/2017. Under this plan, Air Algérie was in the process of acquisition of 16 new aircraft which are part of its strategic objective to develop its African network to cover more destinations

in the near future such as South Africa, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Chad. Mr. Mohamed Salah Boultif, President of AFRAA and the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Algérie who chaired the proceedings of the three-day event, expressed confidence in his welcome remarks that African airlines could successfully intensify intra-African

connectivity as long as they commit to implementing policies for free and voluntary cooperation amongst themselves. He added: ‘We must accelerate the pace of the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision while at the same time promoting a community convergent approach towards the implementation of realistic and effective mechanisms capable of guaranteeing the airlines that they will be the main beneficiaries of the liberalization process’. On industry taxes and related charges, Mr. Boultif urged States to contribute to infrastructure development and to participate in the lowering of operating costs of airlines by reducing taxes, charges and fees on passengers, fuel and other services which remain the highest in comparison to the world averages.

Welcoming delegates back to Algeria, 24 years after the last Annual General Assembly held in the country in 1990, Dr. Elijah Chingosho AFRAA Secretary General cited the many challenges that stand between African aviation today and its potential to drive growth and development. He called upon leaders of African aviation, to play their part to ensure the realisation of AU Agenda 2063 for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens in which a safe, viable, efficient air transport is a key driver. He specifically said: ‘Connecting Africa through aviation and other transport infrastructure is critical to integration, intra-Africa trade, as well as to

tourism, economic growth and development. Air transport is an important creator of jobs and critical skills’. He added that the aviation sector is of key strategic importance for the implementation of the AU Agenda 2063.

The Assembly discussed the challenges that stand between African aviation today and its potential to drive growth and development, from the need for internal African market liberalization, need to recover intercontinental market share, high industry costs and taxes, to inadequate infrastructure and the need to enhance safety culture. States were urged to speed up the process of liberalisation of air transport markets in the continent and expand air services to

the rest of the world as air transport continues to have a greater role to play in achieving integration and sustainable development of the continent.

The 46th AFRAA AGA elected Mr. Monwabisi Kalawe, CEO of South African Airways as Chairman of the Executive Committee while Mr. Abdehahmane Berthé, CEO of Air Burkina was elected as the First Vice Chairman the Executive Committee and Mrs. Saloua Sghaier, Chairman and CEO Tunisair was elected as 2nd Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee. The AFRAA Executive Committee has oversight responsibility for the Association and crafts policy as well as overseeing implementation of projects and programmes by the Secretariat.

The Assembly also elected three new members to replace those whose term of office on the Executive Committee expired at the close of the 46th AGA. Mr. Yissehak Zewolde, CEO of ASKY was re-elected to represent the West/Central Region, Mrs. Saloua Sghaier, Chairman and

CEO of Tunisair was elected to represent the Northern Africa region, while Mr. Edmund Makona, CEO of Air Zimbabwe was elected to represent the Southern Africa Region. The three members will serve for a term of 3 years each up to the close of the 49th AGA.

For the next 47th AGA was ECAir from the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) elected by the 46th Assembly as host and President of the 47th AGA which will take place next year from 01st to the 03rd of November in 2015.

The annual AFRAA award ceremony was keenly awaited and it was Ethiopian Airlines which was crowned Airline of the Year for outstanding results in 2013, consistent profitability and strategic win-win partnerships with regional airlines.

Two individuals were recognized for their distinguished service to the airline industry in the continent: Mr. Oscar Haro, Manager, IATA Airline Training Fund (IATF) was recognized for distinctive efforts in capacity building for aviation personnel and promotion of safety culture in Africa while Mrs. Souad Meziane, former Head of Industry Affairs at Royal Air Maroc was recognized for distinguished efforts, dedication and contribution to the development of African aviation and support of AFRAA activities during her tenure in Royal Air Maroc.

AFRAA will in 2015 continue with their fuel saving initiative by pooling resources and using the increased purchasing power to lower fuel cost for participating airlines but also begin to roll out a similar scheme to coordinate and cooperate in ground handling, again with the aim to lower the cost of handling charges which especially in monopoly environments are a major factor in pricing of tickets.

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