International Air Transport Association (IATA) has identified blocked funds, connectivity, infrastructure, and safety as four pressing concerns in Angola and Africa, which governments and industry stakeholders must address for a healthy and strong aviation system.
IATA forecasts a trebling in the size of Angola’s air transport market to 7.1 million passengers a year by 2036 at the present forecast annual growth rate of 6.7 percent.
However, even faster growth with greater socio-economic benefits for Angola could be achieved if the country opens up its market and prioritizes its participation in the continent-wide connectivity efforts, unblocks funds, consults with industry to improve infrastructure and maintains world-class safety standards.
“Aviation is vitally important to Africa. It currently supports 6.8 million jobs and contributes $73 billion in GDP across the continent. It connects people and businesses, enables trade and tourism, reunites families and friends, carries products to markets and vital medicines and aid to communities where they are needed. Angola needs to work with industry to ensure that it is prepared to reap the future benefits of increased air connectivity,” said Alexandre de Juniac IATA’s Director General and CEO, at IATA’s Aviation Day in Luanda, Angola.
He noted that blocked funds and denied access to foreign exchange in Africa is an increasing problem.
“In nine African countries, international carriers are unable to repatriate their foreign currency earnings, while locally-based airlines experience difficulties making on-time foreign currency payments to their suppliers and business partners. “Angola and other countries blocking funds are undergoing significant economic challenges. But blocking airlines’ funds is not the answer. It is in everybody’s interest to ensure that airlines are paid on-time, at fair exchange rates and in full,” explained de Juniac.
“IATA, with the industry, is working closely with the governments of Angola and other countries on ways to make these withheld funds available. We welcome the commitment yesterday by Angola’s National Bank to work with IATA to find a practical solution to release blocked funds,” he added.
The second priority he identified is improving connectivity. “Enhanced connectivity will stimulate demand and competition, making air travel more affordable and in doing so, enable higher volumes of trade, tourism and commerce between Angola, her sister nations and the rest of the world,” he said.
He said modern infrastructure is critical for aviation to deliver its economic and social benefits. Luanda’s new international airport will play a major role; however consultation is needed to ensure that it is aligned with airline requirements.
“Getting it right is critical, which is why we encourage Angola’s authorities to engage with airlines as early as possible, so that user needs can guide the airport’s development. Among the items at the top of this agenda is the establishment of a charges consultation process in line with the framework of the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) recommended practices. Working together with users in a transparent and fair process is the best way to ensure the new airport’s success,” said de Juniac.
He also identified safety as critical and has always been a challenge for Africa. “With governments and industry working together significant improvements have been achieved. In 2016, for example, there were no fatal accidents or hull losses involving sub-Sahara African scheduled airline services. To sustain and further improve this safety performance, continuous effort based on global standards and best practices is needed,” he said.